Romain Padovani is perceived as having the athleticism to give Pompey’s midfield crucial legs.
But Richie Barker admits the 24-year-old must continue to learn if he is to become an automatic Blues choice.
The Frenchman was left out of Pompey’s team for Exeter after three successive appearances in the heart of the midfield.
Instead Thery Racon was preferred to partner Nicky Shorey – and followed it up with an impressive display.
Barker must decide whether to keep that double act intact for the visit of AFC Wimbledon on Saturday – with Simon Ferry still recovering from a back injury.
Regardless, he has been impressed with the contributions of Padovani in his maiden season in English football.
He said: ‘Romain is a top athlete.
‘When he opens his legs he can cover some ground, which he did in the Wycombe game to get us that penalty.
‘If you watch that back he didn’t half put in a run which actually could have led to nothing and he has to do that on a regular basis to affect the game.
‘But he does cover the ground when he gets his legs going – and I thought we needed more legs in the team.
‘Against Torquay he struggled and the one thing I can say about him is he is a very, very honest lad. In the Morecambe game we had asked him to do something and he didn’t in the first half.
‘On the Sunday/Monday he asked to speak to me and said “I understand what you were trying to say now and I didn’t do it”.
‘He’s got a fantastic attitude and wants to learn.
‘He’s learning not only a different language and a different culture but a different style of football.
‘I don’t think he would have played on many pitches like Morecambe in the south of France.
‘It probably took him by surprise a little bit.’
Padovani began the season as a regular starter before he was used more sparingly.
And that is also an option for Barker.
He added: ‘It’s a little bit of a consideration to put him in and out of the side.
‘We did that earlier in the season, so it was done previously. He has got to learn, a lot to learn.’