Sonny Bradley is convinced Romain Padovani can help fill the midfield gulf left by Johnny Ertl’s absence.
Pompey’s skipper is banned for the Capital One Cup clash at Bournemouth tonight as he starts a three-match ban.
The suspension follows his straight red for catching Danny Rose with his elbow in Saturday’s 4-1 defeat to Oxford.
That will open the door for a full debut for Padovani, who appeared as a second-half substitute against the U’s.
The Frenchman has generally impressed in pre-season, scoring two goals and putting in some eye-catching displays.
Now he is set to be given the opportunity to prove his worth so early in his English football education.
But team-mate Bradley believes Padovani has the attributes to make an impact.
He said: ‘We will go to Bournemouth without Johnny but even though we have a small squad we’ve got the players to cover him.
‘Obviously he is a big miss yet we’ve got Jed who can play in there, Ricky Holmes can play on the right and Danny East can go centre midfield as well.
‘Romain, though, will probably play and he has impressed me. He is a very good player.
‘I do think him and Johnny are quite similar in the way they play.
‘Against some teams that will benefit us, I think if we had gone to Bournemouth with the pair of them sitting in front of the back four that would have been decent.
‘Now Johnny has a three-match ban and this is the chance for Romain to impress – and I hope he takes it.
‘The game was quite flat when he came on as substitute on Saturday but he raised it a little bit. By that time, though, the game was gone.
‘Obviously I didn’t know anybody when I came here and Romain straight away caught my eye.
‘He is surprisingly tall, he doesn’t look that physical but gets around the pitch, wins his headers and has a good sense of flair about him.
‘He has those flicks and what have you, which sometimes annoys me but that is just him!
‘That’s the way he plays and I think it’s a good opportunity for him now.’
Tonight’s Bournemouth fixture comes just 72 hours after that demoralising opening-day defeat to Oxford.
It is also two weeks to the day since the sides met at Dean Court in a pre-season friendly.
On that occasion Eddie Howe’s men won 2-1 but are expected to field a very different side tonight.
Whittingham will also make several changes to his starting line-up, in addition to the need to replace Ertl.
And Bradley believes it is important the players have the chance to swiftly rectify Saturday’s disappointing Fratton Park loss.
He added: ‘It is going to be a tough game tonight but a good opportunity for us all to bounce back straight away without going a week without playing.
‘I think that is good for us, I really do.
‘We are here to fight and here to win but you cannot judge a promotion battle on one game.’