Kenny Jackett believes James Bolton is growing in confidence after registering a maiden Pompey assist.
Now the Blues boss has challenged the defender to have a sustained run in his side as he approaches ‘his best years’ of his career.
Bolton moved to Fratton Park on a free transfer from Shrewsbury in the summer and penned a three-year deal.
However, the right-back endured a frustrating start to life on the south coast.
Bolton suffered a groin injury that ruled him out of the majority of pre-season before picking up an ankle setback during the League One opening-day defeat at the Shrews.
But he’s started Pompey’s past three games and put in a superb right-wing cross for Brett Pitman’s match-winner during the 1-0 win over Bolton Wanderers on Saturday.
After using both Christian Burgess and Ross McCrorie as makeshift right-backs while Bolton was sidelined, Jackett’s now hoping he can settle the role down.
And the manager is certain the 25-year-old is beginning to hit his peak.
Jackett said: ‘I was always looking for James and he had a bit of a frustrating time with injury in pre-season and early season.
‘Hopefully his two games last week will have given him confidence.
‘He played in a big game against Southampton and then built on it on Saturday.
‘He generally had a good all-round game against a left-winger that gave him some problems in the first half.
‘It was a good second-half performance and a good assist for the goal.
‘He’s a good all-round player who we think is coming into his best years.
‘He has got him over that early-season ankle injury that kept him out and hopefully now can have a run like quite a lot of the lads.
‘James will gain some confidence and he is good enough to do that.’
Bolton is expected to retain his starting spot when Pompey travel to Doncaster Rovers on Saturday.
In total, the former Stoke City youth player has made six appearances in all competitions for the Blues.