The Insider: The lowdown on Pompey-linked Hawkins
Oliver Hawkins towers at 6ft 5in and has every attribute you would expect.
When he first arrived at Dagenham & Redbridge, he tried to be physical and dominant in the air– as you would expect with his height.
He broke his arm in April, but from January through to March last season you could see he wanted to pass the ball rather than getting on the scoresheet regularly.
Hawkins was slipping in his team-mates and it was good to see that aspect of his game develop.
There was more of a technical aspect to his game – I think he got bored of referees not favouring strikers in the National League.
Hawkins scored one goal at Tranmere where he showed good pace and good technique, and it was a different side of his game I hadn’t seen from him previously.
However, he’s not going to dispute he is a target man, as that’s how Dagenham did formerly play.
The Daggers would play 4-2-3-1 and men off him would try and pick up the knock downs.
Ipswich, Nottingham Forest and Rotherham were all looking at him last season.
If there are clubs from the Championship interested, there is obviously something there.
He didn’t score goals in League Two. However, when he arrived midway through the 2015-16 campaign, it was his first experience of professional football.
Manager John Still is a big fan of players having a full pre-season behind them.
When Hawkins signed for the Daggers they were in a relegation scrap.
He is held in high regard and was one of the best players at the club last season.
When you speak to people at the club, they all believe he is destined for big things.
Speaking to Still when Hawkins was in his rich vein of form, you could see the big smile on the Daggers’ manager’s face – he was almost like a proud father.
He was delighted he had brought him in and had his faith repaid after what happened in League Two.
Still often signs strikers from non-league football who go on to do well.
Dwight Gayle is one prime example, as is Paul Benson.
If you follow narrative from January, you would say the interest in Hawkins has been expected.
In the second half of last season he didn’t score many but his all-round play picked up.
He looked like he had been struggling with before he was injured, and the logical thing was there would be clubs interested again this summer.