Sonny Bradley has admitted he is wary of the challenge of Bondz N’Gala to his Pompey spot.
The former Stevenage player is ready to pounce should Guy Whittingham’s preferred central-defensive pairing let their standards slip.
The Blues were held to a disappointing 2-2 draw at Cheltenham on Saturday, having twice let a lead slip.
Four times Pompey have conceded goals in the last five minutes of matches during the opening six games of the current league campaign.
There are signs, however, that Bradley and Joe Devera are steadily improving as a central-defensive partnership.
N’Gala’s most recent appearance was at Mansfield, lining-up alongside Bradley, with Devera switching to right-back in the 2-2 draw.
And the summer recruit from Hull knows his team-mate is aiming to force his way into the side.
Bradley said: ‘Bondz is a good centre-half.
‘I think he is quite similar to me in a way – in that he is big and good in the air.
‘All I can do every week is give 100-per-cent honest performances and hopefully I can keep my place in the team.
‘But I know he is itching to get in.
‘He wants a bit more game time and obviously that is going to be a bit difficult because there is a tough fight for places.
‘I don’t know how he is going to be fitted into the side or where he is going to play, but I suppose if there are any knocks then we are comfortable in that we’ve got a decent centre-half waiting to step in.
‘He is big and brave, will go up and head everything, is honest in everything he does and is a good defender.
‘I think you need that, especially in this league.’
Although N’Gala started at Bournemouth in the Capital One Cup, that Field Mill match is his only league appearance.
Phil Smith’s error undid the Blues then, costing them a win, but N’Gala impressed Bradley.
‘I think at Mansfield it was the right decision for the manager to put Bondz in,’ added Bradley.
‘Saying that, Joe, for his size, is very good in the air.
‘But with Mansfield playing the long ball Bondz did well and won headers.’