Kenny Jackett believes Brett Pitman can continue to spur on Oli Hawkins’ impressive goalscoring form.
The striker has netted five times in his past six Pompey appearances – after registering just once in his opening 14 games this season.
Hawkins has been Jackett’s first-choice marksman for the majority of the campaign.
As a result, Pitman has had to settle for a support-act role during his side’s League One title charge.
Despite bagging 25 goals last term – and four this season – the 30-year-old has failed to make a start since October 6.
Hawkins looks set to retain his place in Jackett’s line-up for the trip to Scunthorpe tomorrow (3pm).
The Blues boss insists the battle to spearhead his attack is a close one, however.
And he feels the competition can keep bringing the best out of Hawkins.
Jackett said: ‘A striker would always want to score goals and Oli is the sort of player who can give you a platform to play off.
‘Everyone is looking for those forwards, one way or another. Oli has given us that so far this season.
‘For your own confidence, you do need to feel like you are a goal threat up there.
‘His overall play has been good this season and a good run of goals is obviously going to help him and help us as well.
‘Brett had an exceptional season goalscoring wise last year but so far this season Oli has just edged him out.
'It's been a close one because, from my point of view, I’ve been pleased with both of them.
‘For the balance of the team, I just feel Oli has given us slightly more.
‘For both of them, they have to keep working hard and spur each other on to good performances.
‘That’s what you want. If you can get two players for every position they can do well for the club by getting the very best out of both of them.’
Hawkins scored eight times during his maiden Fratton Park campaign last term following his arrival for an undisclosed fee from Dagenham.
The 26-year-old looks almost certain to surpass that total this term.
Nevertheless, Jackett reckons Hawkins’ tally during 2017-18 was still a good one.
The manager added: ‘He does work hard in terms of scoring goals.
‘His goalscoring hasn’t been bad since he got here.
‘He got eight last season in a limited amount of games.
‘He has six now and has scored goals since he’s been here – Pitman’s 25 was exceptional, though, that’s all.’