Injury and a drop in form conspired to remove Ronan Curtis’ ever-present League One tag.
Now the tireless Irishman insists he is ‘raring to go’ after staging his Pompey comeback in style.
Following four games sidelined, Curtis announced return to the starting XI with a man-of-the-match display at Bristol Rovers on Saturday.
His 70th-minute header from John Marquis’ pinpoint cross handed the Blues a 2-0 lead at the Memorial Stadium.
However, the hosts completed a heartbreaking fightback three minutes into time added on to secure what had appeared an unlikely 2-2 draw.
It was harsh on Kenny Jackett’s men, with Curtis, in particular, indicating he is back to his energetic best down the left.
He said: ‘When I first came here, I said I wanted to score goals and assist goals. I’ve been out for a few weeks and in my first game back scored.
‘I’m a passionate player, all I want to do is play. The manager left me out for a few weeks and it’s good, I’m glad I’m back, fully fit and raring to go.
‘The manager told me “You are working hard, playing well, just keep going and your time will come again”.
‘That’s football, you get left out, even the best players in the world still get left out of the team. You’ve just got to take it with a pinch of salt and get on with it.
‘You must have faith in yourself and confidence in yourself.
‘I have been working hard in training and getting on with it, biding my time.’
Curtis had been an ever-present in the opening eight league games of the campaign, starting in each.
However, a hamstring problem, followed by three stints on the bench, meant he last featured in a Blues line-up at the end of September against Bolton.
Then the 23-year-old was recalled in place of Marcus Harness at Bristol Rovers.
He added: ‘I was delighted to score on my return – and it was a great ball by John, to be fair.
‘I played him in for one-v-one in the first-half and it was a great block by the defender, but he returned the favour with the cross for the header.’