Christian Burgess insists he is taking nothing for granted as he continues to fend off the challenge for his Pompey place.
The Blues centre-back has been one of the club’s most consistent performers so far this term and has played every minute of Pompey’s League Two programme to date.
Boss Paul Cook opted to rest him in the Capital One Cup fixtures against Derby and Reading, and also left him out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy defeat at Exeter – but those are the only fixtures Burgess has missed.
Only leaders Plymouth and Mansfield have a meaner defence than the Blues so far this term, with each conceding just one fewer goal than Pompey’s 12 in 15 games.
But despite his good form, the 24-year-old dismissed the notion that he has made himself an automatic pick in central defence, with Adam Webster and Matt Clarke also battling it out for selection.
Burgess said: ‘I’ve played 15 games in the league and it’s good but it’s still early stages.
‘I’ve been happy with my performances.
‘It’s probably one of my only mistakes in coming for that throw-in against Stevenage in the 94th minute.
‘But I’m looking at it as a game-by-game situation.
‘The manager has made it very clear that there is strength in depth here and you’ve got to play well to keep your place.
‘When you are in the team, you’ve got to seize that opportunity.
‘You know the boys on the bench are going to be trying as hard as they can to get that place.
‘So everyone is at it in training, which is really good, and the boys are giving it their all because we’ve got that depth.
‘We’ve got some really, really good players on the bench and we are struggling to get them on, I suppose.’
The former Peterborough man started the season alongside Clarke but has also been impressed with Webster’s contribution in recent weeks.
‘Webbo has stepped in and done really well,’ said Burgess.
‘I thought he did very well when he came on at Cambridge and he showed he was very capable in the cup games before that.
‘We’ve got a lot of strength in depth and I think Matt Clarke has done well, too.
‘But he (Webster) was the stand-out player at Newport recently.
‘He was the best player on the pitch, in my opinion.
‘It’s hard to do that when you haven’t been playing, because it can be tough to keep your confidence up – I know because I have had that before.
‘It’s hard to step straight in and find your best form, so all credit to him.
‘But we all know that we need to keep playing at the same levels to get in the team.’