Joe Gallen believes Louis Dennis is nudging his way into Pompey’s League One plans.
The forward delivered another eye-catching Checkatrade Trophy performance in the 2-1 victory over Arsenal under-21s on Tuesday.
Dennis’ three Blues appearances have all been in the competition since arriving from Bromley in May.
But he has impressed on those occasions.
The 26-year-old was awarded man of the match against Tottenham under-21s and assisted Andre Green’s match-winner against the Gunners.
Dennis will now be aiming for a maiden league appearance – something he’s been denied so far at Fratton Park.
Gallen hailed the former Dagenham talent’s display against Arsenal.
And he feels Dennis is beginning to force his way into Kenny Jackett’s first-team reckoning.
The Blues’ assistant manager said: ‘I thought Louis played very well against Arsenal – everyone played well and you could highlight the whole lot.
‘Having said that, Louis showed some real class for the winning goal at the end.
‘It was really classy to turn like that on the back of a throw in and he kept doing it.
‘He made it look easy. I’ve never seen anyone do that too much because it’s a very hard technique.
‘But he’s natural on the ball and I think that he is nudging the manager a little bit.
‘He has lots of ability and is a very natural footballer. He has some acceleration, good technique and has a lot of confidence when he receives the ball.
‘I think that he can make things happen in the final third.’
Dennis has had to remain patient since moving to the south coast.
He’s been behind the likes of Ronan Curtis, Gareth Evans and Jamal Lowe in the pecking order during the League One title charge.
The Hendon-born ace has made just seven match-day squads in all competitions.
Gallen admits it has been difficult to keep Dennis’ up spirits during his time on the Pompey periphery.
But the assistant boss has insisted the attacker has ability in abundance.
Gallen added: ‘He hasn’t had a real chance in the league yet.
‘But I would say to him, like I did in the changing room after the game, is that he just has to keep going.
‘There’s no doubt there is a lot of ability there.
‘It’s not been easy (to keep him happy). That’s because talk is one thing and actions are another.
‘If he finds himself quite not in the team or the squad then the message is there that players are ahead of him.
‘It’s been tough for him but on Tuesday night he looked a very good player.’