Bondz N’Gala revealed he loves the physical nature of League Two battles after leaving his mark in Pompey’s 2-1 victory at Burton Albion.
The 24-year-old centre-back turned in a fine display at the heart of the Blues defence.
He was summoned as an early substitute to replace Joe Devera, who suffered a hamstring strain and had to come off.
But after his eighth-minute introduction, N’Gala showed he is more than ready to compete with Devera for a position alongside Sonny Bradley.
One second-half challenge left Adam McGurk staggering around like a punch-drunk boxer.
N’Gala showed he is prepared to put his body on the line for the good of the cause.
He said: ‘I quite enjoyed it, to say the least!
‘As a defender, you certainly enjoy those ones where you win the ball and take the man at the same time.
‘It was a very fair challenge but I was very happy with that one.
‘I relish those physical battles – I love them.
‘It’s a good part of my game so I quite enjoyed that up against their strikers.
‘I’m definitely not afraid to take a whack.
‘I give them out a lot so you have to be prepared to take them as well.’
McGurk – who had been wiped out in an aerial challenge – then stumbled into the referee as he picked himself up.
It showed he had felt the full force of the 6ft 2in powerhouse’s commitment.
It was even more obvious when the Burton man was substituted moments later.
In League Two, plenty of teams look to fire the ball high and long into the penalty area.
And so N’Gala could prove to be the ideal type of defender required for the task.
He said: ‘I thought it was our most complete performance of the season.
‘We got the goals, as we always do, but then defended well to get a good win.
‘I’ve been waiting patiently for my chance.
‘You need to be ready whenever you get the call and I was pleased to get on to help the team.
‘It was a tough week of training.
‘The emphasis was on holding on to leads as we have got the goals in our team.
‘I was glad to see the rewards of training pay off.’