Brett Pitman revealed he always felt he was forcing his way back into Pompey’s plans after making a goalscoring return to the starting XI.
The Blues skipper broke the deadlock in the victory at Walsall last night.
Pitman netted in the 13th minute as Kenny Jackett’s side moved within six points of the automatic promotion places.
The former AFC Bournemouth man was starting his first game in 10 matches.
During that period, he’d been left out of five match-day squads and came off the bench only twice.
But after an impressive substitute cameo in the defeat to Charlton on Saturday, Jackett opted to restore last season’s 25-goal top scorer to his line-up at the Bescot Stadium.
Pitman admitted he was shocked to be left out in the cold for a short stint.
And although a hamstring injury to Omar Bogle helped push him back into his manager's options, the ex-Ipswich forward believes he was already catching the eye on the training ground.
Pitman said: ‘I don’t think the manager needed to tell me what to do to get back in the team.
‘I’m experienced enough and old enough to already know.
‘If I turned up sulking and not trying then I wasn’t going to get back into the team.
‘It was only beneficial for the team and the lads to set an example and work hard to get back into the team – that’s how it worked out.
‘I was a slightly shocked and disappointed (when he was first out of the squad).
‘Then it is about how you react.
'It was three or four games to get back involved and then Omar got injured.
‘But, if I’m honest, even if he hadn’t got injured then I thought I was forcing my way back in anyway just from working hard and training well.’
The January loan arrivals of Bogle and James Vaughan - from Cardiff and Wigan respectively - pushed Pitman down the striking pecking order.
But he started behind the former in the No10 role at Walsall and delivered an impressive display.
Pitman told how he had to mentally strong while on the sidelines.
And he’s pledged to continue to work hard so he doesn’t experience it again.
‘It is frustrating and tough. You have got to be mentally strong,’ Pitman added.
‘Obviously, I think I could help the lads and it wasn’t nice.
‘Hopefully it doesn’t happen again and I’ll just keep working hard.'