As Christian Burgess limbers up for a fifth Pompey season, his first-team presence will once again come under scrutiny.
But the defender’s agent and former Blues skipper, Brian Howard, is convinced the ex-Peterborough man will once more rise impressively to the challenge.
This week has marked four years since Burgess arrived at Fratton Park for an undisclosed fee.
The 27-year-old has gone on to amass 165 appearances, win the League Two title, claim the Checkatrade Trophy and reach two play-off semi-finals.
The arrival of Paul Downing helps fill the gulf of Matt Clarke’s departure, but Kenny Jackett remains in the market for another centre-half.
And the ever-popular Burgess has been backed to once again respond positively.
Howard said: ‘Christian’s a great lad, a really top professional who experienced lots of ups and downs over the year, but stayed fit and stayed true.
‘Look at some of those who came into the club in January and weren’t quite up to the level fitness-wise to make an instant impact, which is why Pompey had those run of games where they dropped off.
‘Those six players coming in weren’t at the top of their fitness and picked up injuries, they couldn’t impact the game for 90 minutes.
‘Whereas Christian hadn’t kicked too many balls, stayed professional, kept himself in peak fitness and then came into the team.
‘I thought he was brilliant during the run in, brilliant at Wembley in the Checkatrade Trophy win and had a really good end to the season.
‘Not being in the manager’s plans, he could have easily dropped his standards in training, yet was ready to come in and play, which is aa credit to him.
‘You keep telling players they will get a chance. It changes so quickly, week to week, you might think you have no chance, but all of a sudden are in the team – and you have to be ready.’
Burgess’ contract ends next summer – and Howard revealed the 27-year-old remains happy at Pompey.
He added: ‘Christian has a year left on his deal and is happy down south.
‘The club have been brilliant for him, he has experienced so many highs – and wants more success next season.’