Hawkins accepts Portsmouth ‘squad player’ role

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Oli Hawkins surveyed the battle for a Pompey first-team spot and revealed: I accept I’m a squad player.

The striker was recalled to Kenny Jackett’s side in place of Brett Pitman for last weekend’s trip to AFC Wimbledon.

Oli Hawkins in Carabao Cup action against AFC Wimbledon earlier in the season. Picture: Joe Pepler

Oli Hawkins in Carabao Cup action against AFC Wimbledon earlier in the season. Picture: Joe Pepler

It signified his ninth start of the campaign – three more than the rival who netted 25 times last term.

Their scrap for one striking spot has developed into an intriguing contest, yet Hawkins has conceded he sees himself as mainly a squad player.

Certainly, Pitman’s scoring record continues to outweigh that of the former Dagenham & Redbridge forward, with four goals against one this season.

However, Jackett has recently given the nod to the contrasting style of Hawkins, with Saturday’s visit of Fleetwood next in line.

The 26-year-old said: ‘It’s a squad season for me this season, I think – and you need every player.

‘I started really well, then had been coming off the bench, but as long as the team is doing well I am happy to be starting or coming on if needed.

‘My focus is going up with Portsmouth this year – and we need everybody to do it. I won’t be selfish.

‘I don’t think I’m going to start every game and if you speak to any forward player they will say the same. You just look to play your part when you asked.

‘Depending on what the match it is – it might be a game for myself, it might be a game for Brett – but it’s making sure you are ready from the bench.

‘It’s disappointing not starting when you think you should, but that’s football. If you think about it too much or let it get to you then it might affect your game. I’m not going to let anything affect me.

‘If I am chosen I will be ready to play and do my best. If I’m asked from the bench I might be a bit annoyed, but I will make sure I’ll be ready to go.

‘I am quite a realistic kind of person anyway, it’s about what the gaffer wants.’

Hawkins recognises a goal return of one this season can affect his ongoing presence in the starting XI.

For that reason, Pitman inevitably remains a constant threat in the first-team battle.

‘When you are centre-forward, playing well can only get you so far if you are not scoring goals. As a forward, you are judged on goals,’ added Hawkins.

‘I’m happy to keep playing well, but at the end of the day, obviously I want to score some goals as well to help the team out.

‘When I’ve had a couple of chances, I feel like I need a few more in the second half to get me a goal

‘I didn’t really get that in the second half against Wimbledon with the way the game went, but was happy to get the chances and do well in the first half to help get us a 2-0 lead.

‘In tough conditions, I thought I held the ball up and was able to free Jamal Lowe to run behind when he needed to – and when the ball gets cleared I also hold it for others.’