Gabor Gyepes has been told to stay patient as Pompey’s central-defensive competition hots up.
Caretaker boss Guy Whittingham has hailed the options his side finally have at the back between senior players.
Gyepes has been one of the Blues’ top performers this season since arriving at the club following his exit from Cardiff.
That has seen the 31-year-old recognised by being named as The News Sports Awards Pompey player of the year for 2012.
The Hungarian’s powerful defending and goal threat has gone down well with supporters.
But he has found himself on the bench for the past two games following the arrival of Sam Sodje, who has partnered Ricardo Rocha at the back.
A clean sheet arrived at Hartlepool, before Pompey earned a 1-1 draw against Carlisle on Saturday.
A defence which had looked porous for much of the season was more solid on both occasions.
Whittingham acknowledges Gyepes has been a stand-out performer this season, but is pleased there is some tough competition for him.
He said: ‘Gabor was rested for the game at Hartlepool. I tried to rest him previously but then Ricardo Rocha had to come off quite early in that game.
‘So I rested him and then, as we got a 0-0 draw at Hartlepool, I felt we should keep the same back four together against Carlisle – and they did well again.
‘We’ve got the three senior centre-backs pushing each other and we’ve also got Adam Webster who can play there.
‘We all know Gabor’s qualities and he has been one of our most consistent performers this season.
‘But we have that extra bit of competition for places now, which I’ve been looking for. There are a few of them pushing each other and that means I have a few decisions to make.’
Sodje has found increasing momentum in his four appearances for Pompey to date. His aerial prowess and bravery shone at Hartlepool – and that continued last Saturday at Fratton Park.
Whittingham feels he has needed time for adjustment after not playing this season following his Notts County departure.
He said: ‘The reason these players have come in is because they have not been getting games elsewhere.
‘Obviously, it takes a bit of time for these lads to get their match fitness.
‘It’s during pre-season that players normally get their match fitness.
‘But it’s different for us, as we know. They are playing games that really matter and at the same time as trying to get their sharpness. Sam (Sodje) was definitely one of those.
‘For the first couple of games, his sharpness wasn’t quite there and his decision-making wasn’t quite there, either.
‘But I think people have seen that his past couple of games have been a lot better. I think he will get even better with a few more games.’