Paul Hardyman has backed Andy Barcham to challenge for a Pompey spot over the festive period.
The winger announced his return from a groin problem by featuring for the reserves at Leyton Orient on Tuesday.
A 36-minute appearance from the bench produced a goal and an assist in the 4-1 victory.
Barcham hasn’t made a Blues squad since the October 25 trip to Shrewsbury and only has nine outings overall this season.
Now first-team coach Hardyman believes the 28-year-old is ready to step up his challenge for a first-team return.
He said: ‘I am really pleased for Barch. It’s the same as Easty.
‘When you are out for a long time with niggly injuries it is tough.
‘But he did well on Tuesday, he showed good combination and link play but also used his pace a couple of times and put in good balls.
‘When you look at it, he has been unfortunate not getting an opportunity through his injuries.
‘If you have that little dip in form sometimes you can accept that you just have to work harder.
‘But when you are out injured you can’t work harder because you are injured, so you just have to get through it.
‘He’s got through it now and given himself a chance.
‘As a senior pro, Barch knows his own body better than a young lad does and that is the experience gained over that time.
‘He might be a little bit closer than Jack (Whatmough) was last week to making it against Accrington.
‘I would say another week’s training and he will be there – but he is ready to go.
‘If he is on the bench or involved over the next few games then fantastic.
‘He’s a great lad and that is why I am really pleased for him because he deserves it.
‘And any League Two club would be pleased to have Lee Holmes, Ricky Holmes, Jed Wallace and Andy Barcham in contention for the starting XI or on the bench.’
Barcham has made just the two starts this season, with the opening day at Exeter City his sole one in the league.
Injury sidelined him for the final 14 matches of last season.
He missed the run-in when Andy Awford kept the Blues in the Football League.
Barcham returned in the summer to play every match in the club’s pre-season.
But it has developed into another stop-start campaign for a player who had made such a promising early impact after joining in the summer of 2013.