Anton Walkes’ development is a ‘long-way advanced’ from last summer.
That's the verdict of Kenny Jackett, who has been impressed with the encouraging progress of the 22-year-old recruited from Spurs.
Walkes is vying with James Bolton for the right-back slot vacated by Nathan Thompson’s self-inflicted departure.
Although presently the path is clear for the versatile performer, with Bolton sidelined for up to a fortnight with a groin problem.
Walkes has made 47 appearances and scored twice since initially arriving on loan at Fratton Park in January 2018.
And Jackett is delighted with the ongoing improvement shown by the youngster.
Pompey’s boss said: ‘It’s really close between Anton and James Bolton at the moment, they both look good players.
‘His game is a long-way advanced from where it was this time last year and it’s good to see, I would suggest it’s a good battle between those two, they have both started very well.
‘With Anton, there’s a focus and understanding of what’s needed, he looks fit and in a good place.
‘You can see that development and, with Thompson no longer being around, he’s making his mark in pre-season and has left a good impression on us all.
‘It has been hard to shift Nathan in the last two years, he was a big player for us, a very clever one who reads the game very well and is an excellent character who is experienced as well.
‘Quite rightly Nathan was first-choice right-back, but he’s not here now and those two are vying for the position – and it’s good to see.’
Bolton was Jackett’s first signing of the summer as Pompey swiftly moved to find a replacement for Thompson.
For now, though, the 24-year-old is missing from the pre-season friendly programme through injury.
Jackett added: ‘Bolton was playing most of last season as a right wing-back for Shrewsbury, which is quite a difficult role in some ways.
‘But I think he is more suited to a right-back in a four – and what he has been brought in for.
‘Both of them have good power and can get forward, there's a good versatility about them, they offer a little bit of everything.’