Kenny Jackett has lifted the lid on the Checkatrade Trophy omission of Louis Dennis.
And the forward, whose finest performances have arrived in the competition, may once again miss out on a squad spot in Sunday’s Wembley final.
The Bromley recruit has found first-team chances scarce during a frustrating maiden Fratton Park campaign.
Yet he has sparkled when handed opportunity to impress during the Blues’ Checkatrade Trophy progress.
Dennis was crowned Checkatrade Trophy Player of the Round following an outstanding 2-0 victory at Southend in January, a fixture in which he also scored.
However, he was benched the following round against Peterborough and dropped from the squad for last month’s Bury semi-final.
Now he’s battling to break into Jackett’s match-day 18 for the final against Sunderland.
Jackett said: ‘Louis has been part of the group, part of the squad, at the right time it has been okay for him to play and the right thing to do.
‘After that, the later rounds do become different.
‘Playing on a Tuesday night with not many people there against, maybe, Spurs under-21s is different to Bury away live on TV with a very, very good home record.
‘They are different games and we have needed different teams to come through them.
‘He has done well, but you want to try to win and they are different types of games, different types of tests.
‘For us to try to get through we’ve needed different strengths at different times.
‘In earlier rounds it was about squad players and one or two youngsters but, similarly, we put on Evans, Hawkins and Clarke after an hour against Spurs under-21s. If we hadn’t put those three on, we wouldn’t have got through that particular game.
‘Different strengths are needed and the earlier rounds are very, very different to the later rounds.
‘If you do want to go through, there are times when you have to go as strong as you can.’
Of Dennis’ eight Blues appearances, five have arrived in the Checkatrade Trophy.
In all competitions, he has not made Jackett's last 10 squads, the most recent outing a start at QPR in a fourth-round FA Cup replay.
Pompey will be missing cup-tied trio Andy Cannon, Bryn Morris and Lloyd Isgrove on Sunday, while Dion Donohue, Viv Solomon-Otabor and Jack Whatmough are injured.
Yet still Dennis faces a battle to even make the seven-man bench for the Sunderland encounter.
Jackett added: ‘Louis will be there or thereabouts for Wembley.
‘Unfortunately he was 19th man last week (Shrewsbury) and is constantly floating around the edge, which is frustrating for him.
‘He is obviously frustrated at his lack of game time in this competition, his last game was QPR in the FA Cup.’