Richie Barker has praised the eye-catching impact of Danny East during his early days at the Pompey helm.
But the right-back is set to lose his first-team spot through injury for tomorrow’s trip to Southend.
East has been outstanding in the two matches he has played for Barker, helping to produce two clean sheets.
The Fratton faithful have also now taken to the 21-year-old who has endured something of a stop-start season since arriving in the summer from Hull.
Yet, in the goalless draw against Northampton on Sunday, East limped off after 79 minutes with an ankle injury to be replaced by Bondz N’Gala.
The problem is expected to keep him out of the Roots Hall visit tomorrow as the Blues seek to build on their four-point festive haul.
That represents a blow for Barker, who has been impressed with East’s showings.
‘I thought Danny was brilliant on Sunday again – his energy is fantastic, his enthusiasm is great – so he will be a miss for us if he is not fit,’ said Barker,
‘I know quite well his agent who brought him here and he is somebody we had a conversation about when I was looking for a right-back in the summer at Crawley. He was somebody on our list.
‘Danny has fantastic energy in terms of going forward, which is how we want the game played in the end, and has a great work ethic.
‘To be fair to him, he’s also a good talker for somebody of his age and somebody who has not played that many games.
‘Danny’s a good character to have around, he listens, he wants to learn, he wants to play.
‘He has been playing through a fairly serious injury and I think that speaks volumes about him.
‘The lad likes defending, which defenders should – they should take pride in clean sheets.
‘But just one-and-three-quarter games is not enough at the minute, we need him at it week in, week out.’
Yassin Moutaouakil was named at right-back for Barker’s first match in charge against Newport County.
Shaun Cooper was then given the nod at Bristol Rovers, only to tear a hamstring during the second half at the Memorial Stadium.
That opened the door for East to feature against Dagenham & Redbridge on Boxing Day, having been sidelined with a neck injury that was sustained against Wycombe.
When the defender himself was injured against the Cobblers on Sunday, Joe Devera switched from centre-half to right-back.
Tomorrow, though, could possibly see the return of Moutaouakil to deputise following illness.
Barker added: ‘Moutaouakil was ill the other day, he has not trained for three days.
‘I think he did turn up at the game on Sunday but the doc sent him away again because he was not well.’