Lee Brown has been warned ‘confident’ Brandon Haunstrup is in no mood to relinquish his hard-earned Pompey starting spot.
The left-back from Waterlooville produced a man-of-the-match display in Tuesday night’s Leasing.com Trophy success over Crawley.
The 22-year-old’s right-wing corner laid on the second-half winner for substitute Brett Pitman in the 1-0 success at Fratton Park.
It represented a third-successive start for Haunstrup, who continues to deputise for Achilles-injury victim Lee Brown.
It is proving a fine first-team spell for the Academy graduate, with Joe Gallen pinpointing rocketing confidence as a crucial factor.
And Pompey’s assistant manager believes Brown faces a fight to regain his place from his impressive full-back deputy.
Gallen said: ‘We all thought Lee Brown played very well for us last year.
‘He is going to have to get back fit – and Brandon has the shirt and is pretty determined to keep it.
‘The word I use for Brandon is “confidence”, the confidence level within himself is very high at the moment.
‘When we first came here, and I’m sure he won’t mind me saying it, but I didn’t think his confidence was as high.
‘Now he is a bit older and, although hasn’t played as many games within these two years, when he came on against Coventry he looked very confident.
‘I told him “Come on, you’re on” and he looked very confident at that moment, played very confidently and hasn’t really stopped.
‘Brandon has done a lot of work on himself in the gym, a lot of work, he really looks fit and strong and been a lot of weights.
‘He has big biceps and looks leaner and meaner and fitter and confident and more focused. I don’t think he has put a foot wrong.
‘The confidence he has in himself has shot right up, which is seen in much-improved performances from him.’
With Gareth Evans substituted at half-time against Crawley following a bang to the head, Ben Close and Haunstrup were entrusted with corner duties.
Haunstrup was allocated the responsibility down the right, producing some excellent deliveries.
And, in the 70th minute, his corner was hooked home by Pitman to earn a 1-0 win over the League Two visitors.
Gallen added: ‘We have always thought he could do that and it’s something we haven't got quite right at times (as a team).
‘It’s more about the delivery, but you need somebody to deliver – and Brandon can deliver the ball.
‘He can produce an inswinging left-footed corner and has a very good left foot.’