Gary Roberts has already shown he has the attributes to drag Pompey to success, according to Paul Cook.
The 31-year-old had an outstanding game for the Blues last weekend as he scored twice and inspired the fightback from 3-0 down to secure a 3-3 draw with Morecambe.
The midfielder was then left out of the Capital One Cup defeat in midweek with the Pompey boss prioritising tomorrow’s League Two trip to Luton Town (3pm).
Roberts made his feelings clear to the manager that he also wanted to play against Reading.
But he was held back for that one in a bid to keep him fresh as he returns to the side at Kenilworth Road.
And Cook has pointed to the former Chesterfield man’s appetite for the game as a key reason he chose to bring him to Fratton Park in the first place.
Cook said: ‘We saw what he did for us last week and it’s what you expect from him.
‘I’ve known Gary a long time and the biggest compliment I can pay him is that he has a huge appetite for the game.
‘It’s not just his ability – loads of players have ability.
‘Gary has got great ability but so have hundreds of other players in football.
‘But it’s that appetite that separates players.
‘It’s something that every young player can learn from.
‘It’s no use just having the ability, you’ve got to have that appetite for the game as well.
‘He has got the ability, the temperament and the character to do that and lift a team like he did last week when we needed him.
‘That’s why he was brought in.
‘I know that when we need him, he will be there for us.
‘His performance against Morecambe was a massive example of that and I’m sure there will be other times when he does the same thing.’
Roberts already has three goals to his name this season and has become a firm fans’ favourite in his short time at the club.
But Cook pointed to the work ethic that has given supporters an instant idea of what to expect.
Cook said: ‘I’ve seen plenty of players who have had a similar level of ability to him and don’t have that drive. But I think our supporters know quite quickly that Gary Roberts is a good player.
‘When supporters see that attitude, people stick with you when it doesn’t go so well.
‘I think Gary is earning that sort of status.
‘That sort of attitude is ingrained in you. It’s a love of the game.
‘Nowadays with a lot of kids in modern-day football, they get money and it can take away the edge from them.
‘A lot of people’s enthusiasm will shine through no matter how much money they are on.
‘Gary is certainly a role model for young footballers, in my opinion.
‘He’s a fantastic footballer but he works very, very hard.’