Johnny Ertl refused to criticise departed boss Richie Barker for a spell in the Pompey wilderness but revealed he is relishing his new ‘lease of life’.
The midfielder was handed his first start in three months in Andy Awford’s opening game in caretaker charge and was also restored to the captaincy as the Blues picked up a crucial 2-1 win at Newport on Saturday.
It was a far cry from recent weeks when the Austrian often failed to even make the match-day squad after being frozen out under Barker.
But Ertl delivered his customary wholehearted effort and is now determined to play an influential role under Awford’s new regime.
Ertl said: ‘Yes, it does feel like a new lease of life for me but everybody played their part in a massive win (at Newport).
‘I was really grateful to get the chance and it was a fantastic result and what everybody needed.
‘It’s been a while since I played but it’s my job to be ready.
‘It has been difficult for me, obviously, but I respect the manager’s decision.
‘I kept myself fit and I was ready for selection every time.’
Although Ertl declined to discuss his working relationship with Barker, he continued to believe his opportunity would come.
‘I don’t want to look back. I want to look to the future,’ said Ertl.
‘It’s good the manager sees me as part of the plans.
‘This is football. I’ve been in the game long enough to know how it works.
‘You can go through good times and bad times but you keep level-headed, work hard and things will change.
‘My glass is always half full. I kept working hard and I never gave up.’