Kenny Jackett has pinpointed the ‘athleticism’ of Ross McCrorie adding a missing spark to Pompey’s right-back performances.
The Rangers midfielder was surprisingly recalled at full-back for Tuesday evening’s visit of Lincoln.
James Bolton was last summer recruited to replace Nathan Thompson in the role, with the versatile Anton Walkes also challenging.
Yet, against the Imps, both were overlooked in favour of McCrorie at right-back, representing Jackett’s sole change to the side which lost at AFC Wimbledon last weekend.
McCrorie has Scotland under-21 experience in the position, featuring three times there his season.
And, having already cast his eye over the 21-year-old in the role earlier this campaign, Jackett has now returned to the loanee.
He said: ‘I felt teams had been setting up and leaving us slightly open down that side – and we need an athletic player.
‘Ross was caught out once or twice in the first half, but in the second half was a lot better, particularly when there were crosses in from our left-hand side, he defended his far post better and got his bearings.
‘There was one glimpse of what he can do athletically when he burst out in the second half, and didn't keep going, he played it square to John (Marquis). I do think there’s an athlete there that can bring the ball out from the back.
‘My thinking is that athleticism is something we're needed down that right-hand side and that's the reason.
‘We will see how that develops with Ross and whether we can turn that into, not just carrying the ball, but then breaking lines going forward.
‘I do think it’s a position where, if Ross can find his bearings, there's a really good athlete coming out from the back.
‘He’s played there against Coventry, when I thought he put in a good performance, and came on against Sunderland in that position as well, doing well going forward.
‘Three of his four games for Scotland under-21s this season have been at right-back, so it’s a position I think his athleticism can bring a lot to us.’
Bolton had previously started five-successive League One outings for the Blues.
Now Jackett is weighing up whether to retain McCrorie for Saturday’s visit to Bristol Rovers.
Pompey’s boss added: ‘We will see. There’s a right place and a right time for James, he is good enough to come back, definitely.
‘I’ll have a look at the video, I never really pick my next team straight away after a game.
‘I’ll decide over the next couple of days whether it’s Ross or James Bolton.’