Kenny Jackett is convinced out-of-sorts Ronan Curtis requires a confidence boost to restore his swagger.
The Irishman’s Pompey form has dipped noticeably since the turn of the year – and he produced another subdued display in the midweek defeat to Peterborough.
Curtis raised the bar high after a scintillating Fratton Park entrance from the League of Ireland, earning international Republic of Ireland recognition in the process.
The left-wing live wire netted eight times in his opening 24 matches – yet has scored on just four occasions since Christmas.
Jackett has dismissed the notion the 23-year-old is tired after a gruelling schedule.
And Pompey’s boss believes Curtis will soon roar back into form.
Jackett said: ‘Ronan has lost a little bit of rhythm and hasn’t quite been able to pick it up.
‘That’s maybe understandable in his first season, since the finger injury he has lost a little bit of rhythm and is probably looking for a goal to lift his confidence.
‘It’s hard to say (the reason), I don’t think it is tiredness, he’s just lost his rhythm slightly and little bit of confidence.
‘It doesn’t take much, he’s trying hard, though, but he will be back.
‘Ronan is very self-confident but, in terms of then going out and playing and performing to your maximum, it’s not something that’s always easy to do.
‘He certainly tries hard enough, though.’
Curtis was last week crowned Pompey’s Young Player of the Year at the club’s end-of-season gala dinner.
That decision came from Jackett himself, the manager clearly impressed with the attacker’s impact since recruited from Derry for a bargain £100,000 in June 2018.
He has slotted effortlessly onto the left of the Blues’ attacking three, establishing himself as one of Pompey’s star performers during the first half of the campaign.
Yet, with the League of Ireland starting in January, effectively Curtis has played solidly for almost 18 months.
The 23-year-old also last month missed three matches after chopping off part of his finger in a door.
Regardless, Curtis has started the Blues’ last two matches – and will also be in the frame for Saturday’s visit of Accrington.
And Jackett believes that match still possesses a relevance, despite automatic promotion hopes extinguished.
Jackett added: ‘We’re after third spot if we can, we always want to win, whatever the fixture list throws up, and Accrington is our last home game.
‘We want to finish positively, to finish with as many points as possible. Another reason is to go into the play-off games with good confidence.
‘There is everything to play for.’