Pompey boss: Hawkins need an aerial improvement
KENNY JACKETT has challenged Oli Hawkins to provide a more effective aerial presence.
The striker opened his pre-season account with a powerful header from Jamal Lowe's right-wing cross on Saturday.
The Blues ran out 2-0 winners at League Two Swindon as Jackett continues to explore his starting options.
He handed Hawkins and Conor Chaplin their first starts of the summer schedule, with the latter creating the second goal netted by Lowe.
Jackett was pleased with the performance of Hawkins, who continues to battle for a regular first-team spot.
Yet Pompey's boss conceded the former Dagenham & Redbridge man must contribute more with his headers.
He said:Â '˜Hawkins had a lot of headers against Swindon, a lot of chances.
'˜I think overall he needs to head more back and down and across to give other people a chance.
'˜There are too many of his headers which miss the near post, go the wrong side or over the bar. I'm not talking about headers where he is necessarily challenged, either.
'˜If you can get the ball into the box from a wide area obviously he is a threat, but at the right time he also has to bring other people into play.
'˜For us, we work away at that because he can be a threat.
'˜You can't get every header because obviously you are being challenged and you also must considerÂ the flight of the ball.
'˜But on Saturday, inside the box, we think a percentage of headers need to be better for us in order to bring other people into play as well as score.'
Hawkins netted eight goals during his maiden Fratton Park campaign last term.
However, a hamstring problem impacted upon the final two-and-a-half months, restricting him to just three appearances.
Nonetheless, it was still a encouraging season for the player plucked from non-league football to feature in League One.
Jackett added: '˜OliÂ did well for us last year.
'˜IÂ do feel he's a player that needs a partner and some pace around him. If you can get some sharpness and some pace around him, that can help.
'˜The likes of Conor is the right type of player and I think that is quite a natural partnership '“Â or maybeÂ a number 10 behind him.
'˜It's not necessarily about a system, it's about using him to his strengths and at the right time getting some runners off the ball.'