Kenny Jackett is banking on Ronan Curtis' extended leave reigniting his 'sparkle'
The Blues returned to pre-season training on Thursday, ahead of another promotion push.
However, Curtis has not been among their number after granted an additional 11 days off following international duty during the summer.
The winger was called up by the Republic of Ireland for Euro 2020 qualifiers against Denmark and Gibraltar early last month.
Although not featuring in either fixture, it wasn’t until after June 10 before Curtis was released to enjoy his close-season break.
The former Derry City man produced an eye-catching maiden Pompey campaign following his Football League arrival.
However, Jackett admits late-season performances lacked his customary energy.
Curtis has now been instructed to return for Sunday’s start of Pompey’s tour to Dublin – with Jackett hoping the extra rest will benefit.
He said: ‘Maybe at the end of last season Ronan tired slightly or there wasn’t the sparkle he had, so we hope this additional rest will work.
‘Him being with Ireland during the summer is not ideal, but it is what it is and there’s not a lot we can do about it.
‘I am sure by the time we get to Dublin, Ronan will be refreshed and raring to go, looking to get back to his best and build on what was a successful first year for him.
‘He lost his rhythm a little bit, there was a period when him and Gareth (Evans) were dovetailing. It worked for me at Wembley, where he came off and Gareth went on, making a big difference.
‘Some of the games after, whichever way I did it, it didn’t quite have the same effect.
‘He then talked in the press about how that had affected his confidence slightly, you are very aware of those things as a manager, but similarly have to use your substitutes.
‘Ronan lost a little bit of rhythm, definitely a tiny bit of energy, but overall had a good season and was a good addition for us.
‘I’m really looking forward to seeing him in Dublin, champing at the bit to get into the side and prove himself.’
Curtis has made 49 appearances and scored 12 times following his May 2018 switch from the League of Ireland.
And during a blistering past 12 months, he has also made two appearances for the Republic of Ireland.
Jackett added: ‘Ronan didn’t get any opportunities in last month’s Irish games, but the great thing is he’s in there competing.
‘As ever, he now needs to hit the ground running to get into our team, which I’m sure he will.
‘He must be successful for us and build on his first year, which has been a very good one.’