HIS creaking body ensured he was a willing departee from the Meadow Lane pitch.
And the hard-working Caolan Lavery knows he’s continuing to head towards recapturing his best footballing form.
The on-loan striker featured for 80 minutes in the 2-1 defeat at Notts County on Saturday before making way for Matt Tubbs.
By that stage Lavery had opened his goal-scoring account for the Blues in his fourth outing – and second start.
Exhausted by his impressive man-of-the-match efforts as Pompey’s lone forward having run himself into the ground, he accepted his substitution.
Regardless, it represented more progress for the Sheffield Wednesday player who had previously this term played only 115 minutes of first-team football before his Fratton Park arrival.
Obviously the lone striker role is different, not a lot of teams play it, but I enjoy it, it can be frustrating at times but that’s footballCaolan Lavery
He said: ‘I like to think I am quite good in the box and getting in and around my marker.
‘Sharpness comes with playing football, I have not done a lot of that this season so every game I play I will obviously get better and better.
‘I think my sharpness and fitness are coming along nicely and am training hard every day to try to improve that – as well as show everyone I am here for the cause.
‘I was tired in the end so thought I may as well let someone else come on and get a run out and do a better job than me.
‘I had done a lot of runs in a small moment in time and couldn’t get my breath back but overall felt fine, I felt quite sharp.
‘That’s me, I will chase lost causes, will make bad balls into good ones.
‘That will allow our team to get higher up the pitch, opening up space for them to run in behind and give us more time on the ball and more opportunity to create chances for the rest of the team.
‘Obviously the lone striker role is different, not a lot of teams play it, but I enjoy it.
‘It can be frustrating at times but that’s football.
‘Football can be frustrating so you have just got to get on with it.’
Lavery had previously netted in April earlier this year during the Owls’ 1-1 draw with Charlton.
At that time the 23-year-old was enjoying a run in the side having been recalled from a successful loan spell at Chesterfield.
Paul Cook was the manager who oversaw that period at the Proact Stadium, which consisted of three goals in eight appearances.
Now the pair are reunited at the Blues, where Lavery has displaced Matt Tubbs in attack for the past two matches.
The former Northern Ireland under-21 international had given Pompey the lead at the Magpies, only for them to slip to defeat but he is not too concerned by the outcome.
Lavery said: ‘It will come, we are obviously getting used to everything, we are working on things here and there.
‘I am not too worried about it, it was a blip on Saturday but we will come back firing for the next game.’
Pompey host Conference Premier side Macclesfield Town in the FA Cup first round on Saturday.