Gary Roberts has been challenged to become Pompey’s inspiration during their nine-game promotion run-in.
That is the call from Paul Cook, who will restore the creative midfielder to his side for today’s Notts County visit (3pm).
We don’t expect Gary Roberts to tackle people and boot people, but we know there is a bit of petulance in himPaul Cook
Roberts has served the one-match ban awarded for a red card in his last Fratton Park outing.
That 3-0 loss to Newport County saw the 32-year-old receive two yellows, the first a petulant kick at an opposition player.
Roberts possesses an impressive promotion pedigree having been involved in play-off and promotion pushes in each of his previous six campaigns.
On five of those occasions his teams reached the play-offs, while in 2013-14 Chesterfield won the League Two title.
And Cook is looking for the eight-goal midfielder to provide the Blues’ spark.
He said: ‘Gary is Gary, Michael Doyle is the same, they want to do it so much for people that sometimes it spills over.
‘Gary’s frustration spilled over against Newport, the first yellow card was just ridiculous and he should know better than that.
‘We don’t expect Gary Roberts to tackle people and boot people, but we know there is a bit of petulance in him.
‘What we expect Gary to do is at the other end of the pitch and, with nine games to go, he is one of the lads I would like not to speak to the media so much.
‘He has the ability to carry teams and has a nine-game mini-season where hopefully he can produce the quality we know he can.
‘He is intelligent and that second yellow card came in areas of the pitch we want him in.
‘We need him in areas like he had at Yeovil and Ipswich at home when he gets the penalty. We don’t want him in deep-lying midfield areas where he doesn’t hurt people.
‘You look at his play-off record and it is ridiculous, like Doyle.
‘Fratton Park will be buzzing today and hopefully we can light the touchpaper.’
In Roberts’ absence, the Blues drew 1-1 at Mansfield.
But Cook does not expect the midfielder to have learned from his misdemeanours.
He added: ‘He will not have learnt from it! He got sent for Chesterfield against Mansfield doing the same thing!
‘It’s a natural reaction. It wasn’t happening for Gary in the team and his frustration spilled over.
‘The player is in a place where he is not thinking properly and when you have an appetite to deliver like he has that can happen.
‘I don’t want to take that edge away from Gary, it’s important we channel it, we want our lads to have a bit more devilment in us, it is something we’re lacking a bit.
‘But we have got to be careful how far we push them towards that.’