Johnny Ertl is relishing his long-awaited Pompey return this weekend.
And the midfielder is still stinging from the ‘harsh’ red card which forced him onto the sidelines for three matches.
Ertl will fight it out with Simon Ferry and Romain Padovani for a place in Guy Whittingham’s starting line-up at Mansfield.
Realistically it will be Padovani the Austrian will have to dislodge, a difficult feat considering his performances as a stand-in.
Last year’s News player of the season found himself out of the side following a straight red card against Oxford on the opening day of the campaign.
He has watched all three games since then, including commentating on the Morecambe victory for Express FM.
Now Ertl is back in the frame – and desperate to get playing.
He said: ‘I am really, really glad to be back.
‘I cannot wait to get out there and help my team-mates win games of football.
‘It was pretty frustrating watching matches.
‘Football is about different opinions and I still think it was a really, really harsh opinion from the referee for the red card.
‘The Oxford players made the most of it, they surrounded the referee and it was obviously a huge amount of pressure.
‘Tom Craddock says the manager told them to do that when he was there last season, that is what they do.
‘I have looked at the incident so many times and the Oxford players came straight at me, while (Danny) Rose on the floor has been ignored completely.
‘I could not believe it, look it up for yourself.
‘A sending off is probably in the laws of the game but I just jumped up and wanted to head the ball.
‘Rose is half the size of me, so when I jump I have an advantage.
‘He was down there which I suppose did not help me at all.
‘It was the first sending off in my career and I spoke to the referee afterwards but he does not know me or that I am not like that.
‘What can I do? It is really difficult preventing it happening again, I cannot change how I jump.
‘It was really unfortunate and very harsh. Now I must get back into the side.’
Pompey are waiting on the extent of the toe injury Ferry picked up last weekend.
If fit, it provides Whittingham with a fascinating selection headache.
Ertl added: ‘Romain has done well. It’s a team game and this is good because we need competition.
‘That is what I would want as a manager. I think it is really healthy for a team over what is a long, long season.
‘It is all about the team and that’s most important. If we can pull in the right direction, then we can be successful.
‘I have been there before at other clubs and there have been too many individuals – you need a team spirit.’