MICHAEL DOYLE vowed Pompey can handle the heat as the promotion battle intensifies.
And the Blues captain feels his team can embrace the pressure building on his side and their rivals as the race to reach League One reaches its climax.
Doyle felt the response shown by Paul Cook’s men to falling outside of the play-offs last week underlines their strength of character.
The vastly-experienced 34-year-old admitted even he was feeling the tension going into the clash with Bristol Rovers.
All of Pompey’s promotion rivals are now going to be going through the wringer over the final 17 games.
Doyle feels that can work to his team’s advantage.
He said: ‘We’re focused on that promotion.
‘What we’ve been through this season will stand us in good stead for the run-in.
‘Look at last week for character. We were massively under pressure.
‘Last week, we were outside of the play-offs.
‘In the build-up to that game I was looking at the league and wondering what’s gone wrong?
‘I was thinking how have we let this slip up? I was feeling the pressure and I’ve had over 600 games in my career.
‘So if I’m feeling the pressure, the lads starting out must have been feeling it.
‘So what better way to respond to that than the way we’re went out last week.
‘Last week was as big a pressure situation as we’ve seen all season. We’ve shown the character we have.
‘We’re at the biggest club in the division, so we’ve had it a bit more than the rest.
‘But, at the same time, too, it’s going to grow on us all.
‘We’ve had pressure all season. That’s been ourselves and people elsewhere saying we are favourites.
‘It’s something we’ve been used to. We can embrace it to achieve what we want to achieve.’
Doyle is in no doubt arriving at a club of Pompey’s stature has taken adjustment for many of the squad.
With the campaign now in its seventh month, he feels that’s something they now should be accustomed to.
‘A lot of the lads who’ve come in are good footballers, but the one thing they haven’t been used to is playing at a big club,’ said Doyle.
‘That’s no disrespect to the clubs they’ve been at, but they wouldn’t have as big a fanbase as what we have here.
‘They wouldn’t have had the pressure and demands which come with playing here every week.
‘It’s certainly something they are now used to.
‘We’ve had plenty of ups and downs over the first six months of the season.
‘A bit of negativity and positivity comes with that from the fans. The lads have had to deal with it.
‘Coming into the run-in it should stand them in good stead for what we’ll face.
‘They know the expectations and should be used to it.’