Danny Hollands is determined to give Paul Cook another selection headache.
The Pompey midfielder is expected to start tonight’s Capital One Cup second round showdown with Reading (7.45pm) after playing a leading role in the first-round win over Derby County.
The former Bournemouth man has seen his opportunities limited so far in League Two with Michael Doyle and Nigel Atangana starting every game in central midfield.
And Hollands admits he thought his days at Fratton Park might be numbered when Cook took over in the summer.
But the 29-year-old has found himself on the fringe of the team and should link up with Ben Close again tonight as he aims to put in another performance.
Hollands said: ‘It’s always tough when a new manager comes in because you never know what to expect.
‘I’ve just got my head down and I am trying to perform well when I get given the chance – it’s all you can do.
‘In other teams I have been in, certain managers look like they don’t fancy a player but then they come in, they do well and they end up playing.
‘So you’ve got to take your chance when it comes along.
‘Everyone wants to play and it’s not nice being left out but the gaffer can only pick 11 players.
‘So you try to give the manager a headache. Hopefully, we did that against Derby when we put in a good performance.
‘If I get an opportunity to play in this one, then it’s up to me to try to get into the league team after that.
‘When a new manager comes into a club, everyone fears that they could be on their way out.
‘Everyone asks the same questions and wants to know if the manager wants them here.
‘But he hasn’t asked me to leave yet so I will take that as a positive!’
Cook has made it clear that the competition is some way down in the club’s list of priorties this season.
But Hollands has no intention of accepting defeat, especially against more Championship opposition.
He said: ‘If you are in it, you might as well do as well as you possibly can.
‘A lot of people might have expected Derby to come down here and beat us 4-0 or 5-0 as they are pushing to get into the Premier League and we are a League Two side.
‘We didn’t just beat them – I thought we held our own really well.’
And he believes there is no reason to fear Steve Clarke’s side.
Hollands said: ‘Now we’ve got to give Reading respect but there is no need to fear them.
‘We’ve shown that we can compete with teams in that league.
‘We will go out and enjoy it but we will give it our best shot to get into the next round.
‘If we do that, you never know who you are going to get.’