Gallen impressed with Pompey striker's development

Oli Hawkins endured the frustration of missed opportunities and an injury-enforced substitution last time out.

Friday, 9th March 2018, 12:00 pm
Oli Hawkins in action against Blackpool. Picture: Joe Pepler

But Joe Gallen is delighted with the ongoing development of the striker recruited from non-league.

In a dreadful Pompey performance, Blackpool left Fratton Park with a 2-0 success a fortnight ago.

It represented the worst display of Kenny Jackett’s era, with Hawkins wasting several great chances.

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Regardless, assistant boss Gallen was encouraged by the display of the striker, who he holds in such high regard.

Since arriving from Dagenham & Redbridge on August transfer deadline day, the 25-year-old has netted eight times.

His 31 appearances have been interspersed with spells as a makeshift central defender, while he left the pitch early against Blackpool with a knee injury.

However, Hawkins has trained all this week and will feature in tomorrow’s visit of Gillingham.

And Gallen is looking for him to maintain his Pompey promise.

He said: ‘I am encouraged a lot by Oli, I think he is turning himself into a pretty good player, actually.

‘Oli probably should have scored against Blackpool, but I liked the way he elected to sidefoot his best chance rather than just smashing it, even if it just went wide.

‘I think with Oli there is a certainty about his game.

‘He is someone who can win headers and has scored eight goals, so there is a certainty about his game and that is a good thing.

‘He has a lot to do to improve, but is very honest about his own performance and is improving all the time.

‘I thought when he went off against Blackpool, offensively, we lost quite a lot.

‘The least he is going to do is hold the ball up, bring other people into play, win headers, and there is a goal threat there.

‘He was getting worse and worse with his injury, with half-time making it stiffen up a little bit, but he is okay now for Gillingham.’

Hawkins has started Pompey’s past two matches in his favoured forward role.

He registered his eighth goal of the season in the 2-1 triumph at Fleetwood last month.

With top-scorer Brett Pitman still sidelined by a hamstring problem, it has enabled Jackett to partner Hawkins in attack with Conor Chaplin.

And the pair are expected to continue against the Gills tomorrow.