Hooper keen to repay Bradbury faith

JJ Hooper in action for Northampton last season
JJ Hooper in action for Northampton last season
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Hawks striker JJ Hooper is aiming to put his pre-season frustrations behind him in the best possible fashion – by scoring goals.

The striker arrived at Westleigh Park earlier in the summer after being released by Football League Two outfit Northampton Town.

Since then, though, Hooper has spent almost all of his time watching from the stands because of injury.

It was just 45 seconds into the Hawks’ second friendly of the summer against Pompey that Hooper limped off the pitch with a hamstring injury.

And his second-half appearance in the game against AFC Wimbledon last Friday was his first game time since as the Hawks concluded their preparations for the new Vanarama Conference South season.

The 20-year-old admitted it has been a frustrating period.

‘Seeing the lads out there playing every week has been difficult,’ said Hooper.

‘For me, it is a question of just getting myself fit after picking up a grade-one hamstring strain.

‘I have to be careful with it because there is a danger, if I rush back too early, it can cause greater damage.

‘The physio has helped me out a lot but I have to remain patient with it.’

Hooper is keen to get back started again so he can show his new club what he is capable of.

Last week’s arrival of Shamir Mullings means the former Newcastle Academy player may not get that chance right away.

That might not be a bad thing, though, as he battles to rid himself of any lingering injury doubts.

Hooper enjoyed his spell at Northampton, even though they spent the season battling relegation, and was disappointed to be released.

‘I made my debut as a substitute at York on the opening day of last season,’ said Hooper.

‘After that I was in and out of the side.

‘But it was definitely a good experience.

‘I learned a lot from the management team of Aidy Bothroyd and Andy King.

‘We did well to stay in the league in the end.’

When released, Hooper set about finding a new club and had trials with a couple of other league clubs.

He put his decision to join the Hawks down to boss Lee Bradbury.

‘The manager had so many positive things to say,’ said Hooper.

‘That’s what you want because it shows confidence in you.

‘He said he would do his best to help me develop and achieve my ambition of getting back into the Football League in the future.

‘I intend to keep my head down and work hard.

‘On loan at Farnborough at the end of last season I got seven goals in eight starts.

‘I am pretty confident in myself that if a chance is put in front of me I will score it.

‘All I want to do is get started.’

The Hawks begin their Vanarama Conference South campaign against Bromley at Westleigh Park on Saturday.