Paul Cook has backed Jayden Stockley for a bright future as Pompey come face-to-face with their former loanee.
The Bournemouth striker spent the first six months of the campaign at Fratton Park before departing in January.
We couldn’t offer Jayden a guarantee that he would play regularly, so we left on really good terms and wish him wellPaul Cook
During that period he netted twice in 12 appearances, including a winner at Bristol Rovers and last-gasp leveller at home to Morecambe.
Yet an ankle injury hampered his availability and the 22-year-old made just one appearance after October 3, before Cook opted not to extend it.
Now Exeter are Stockley’s employers for the rest of the campaign, representing an eighth loan club of his career.
Following two goals from the bench in Saturday’s 2-0 victory at Stevenage, he is expected to line up against the Blues tomorrow tonight (7.45pm).
And Cook has plenty of praise for the youngster during his time at Fratton Park.
Pompey’s boss said: ‘Jayden was a smashing when he was here, a really good kid.
‘He is an enjoyable lad to work with and has an appetite for the game.
‘Jayden left was because he has to play football regularly for his development.
‘We couldn’t offer him a guarantee that he would play regularly, so we left on really good terms and wish him well.
‘He is going to have a bright career because he works very hard on his game.
‘Jayden has a good attitude and still has a lot of learning to do in the game, but that is what being a young lad is about.
‘It also applies to our youngsters. The best way to learn is to play, and if you are not playing regularly sometimes you are not going to learn – that’s what having a big squad can do to you.
‘I think he’s got a good future, he’s a smashing kid, has a right-good appetite to the game and a bit of ability as well.
‘We wish him well.’
Stockley started only six games under Cook, most notably September’s trip to Bristol Rovers.
He netted a 71st-minute winner at the Memorial Stadium to fire Pompey into first place in the table.
The Bournemouth youngster also earned a point against Morecambe in August, climbing off the bench to net a stoppage-time equaliser.
His diving header to Adam Webster’s cross sealed a remarkable three-goal comeback for the hosts as they secured a 3-3 draw.
Stockley has scored five goals in nine games for the Grecians, including netting on his debut against Morecambe.