Jack Whatmough is targeting first-team involvement before the season’s end following his successful comeback.
The defender marked his return from knee surgery by turning out for Pompey’s reserves in a 1-1 draw with Leicester City last night.
After five months and four days on the sidelines – his 45-minute appearance came a month ahead of schedule.
Pencilled in to play only the first half, Whatmough felt no ill effects from his Nyewood Lane outing.
He now needs more reserve outings to build up match fitness after an injury lay-off which began in September.
But with three months and 16 matches remaining, he is gunning for first-team football before the end of the campaign.
Afterwards my body felt good, I was walking in at half-time knowing there is more in the tankJack Whatmough
He said: ‘We always said six months, so to knock a month off is a credit to myself, the physios and the surgeon for the work put in to make sure I was back on the pitch last night.
‘It was a tough 45 minutes and I could have gone again but that’s where I have to listen to what the physios and staff are saying.
‘I haven’t played for a while, that is where I have got to hold back a little bit and let them do what is right for me – and I’m just glad I have come through that.
‘Afterwards my body felt good, I was walking in at half-time knowing there is more in the tank.
‘I did say to Blakie (Robbie Blake) on Monday “go on, I can get 60 out of me”. But as I soon as I got to the ground they said “45”!
‘That was me trying to push my luck as always but I have to listen, they know what’s best for me.
‘I’m not too sure what happens next about friendlies, that’s the manager’s choice. If there are more reserve games I really want to play in them.
‘It’s down to the physios now but they have given me the all-clear to just crack on.
‘I hope I can play for the first team again this season.
‘That is my target now, to get a game back there, so we will take it from here.’
Following last night’s elimination from the group stages of the Premier League Cup, no more reserve matches are scheduled.
Yet the Blues are fully aware more games require laying on to enable Whatmough to maintain his first-team push.
He added: ‘In training I have been going for headers and my timing has not been right and distance not been there.
‘But you learn about yourself in a game. So when I am going for the headers I am challenging against someone, I know where I want to head it so it is easier to do in a game.
‘I went into the game thinking “my heading hasn’t been great”. Then the first one came in and I got good height and distance and I thought “my heading’s fine”.
‘These games are good for me. I’ve needed this. Now it’s just a case of pushing on.
‘I’ve got through 45 minutes and hopefully there’s another game coming up so I can play more minutes.’