David Connolly feels Pompey need to drag themselves out of the League One drop zone to avoid a points deduction next season.
The Blues hitman reckons his side have to bridge the eight-point gap to safety to not be hit with a 10-point loss next term, which is likely to be in League Two.
Connolly can see the deduction coming off this season only if they are deemed a genuine punishment, which means Pompey would need to have a good chance of staying up beforehand.
The Football League will decide the fate of Guy Whittingham’s side when their board convene.
That is expected to be after the key court date to decide the value of Fratton Park on April 10 or 11.
Pompey have nine games to attempt to bridge the gap but are in upwardly-mobile form as they go to Leyton Orient tonight.
When asked if he believes the Blues need to climb out of the bottom four to avoid a deduction being placed for the next campaign, Connolly said: ‘I can’t see it working out any other way apart from that.
‘But we can only do what we can do on the pitch – and what the League do they will do.
‘It’s not a forlorn hope but it’s down to what the Football League do.
‘Even if we get the points we don’t know what will happen for sure.
‘We just have to try to get them.
‘Who knows where it will take us – probably to League Two!
‘Bury showed that’s not going to be easy.
‘They are down the bottom as well but played well on Saturday.
‘So we know it is going to be tricky to get them.’
Pompey go to Matchroom Stadium tonight on a run of just a single defeat from their past six games.
That incudes back-to-back wins for the first time since October.
Orient have identical form over the past six games, including a 2-0 success at Shrewsbury on Saturday.
Connolly said: ‘It will be tough like they all are in this league.
‘But we look forward to Leyton Orient after the win against Bury now.
‘We have to give the fans something to cheer about.
‘It’s a case of taking the games as they come over the rest of the season.
‘But we can only go out there and perform and let the rest take care of itself.’