Hawkins sizes up exciting Pompey strikeforce

Oli Hawkins celebrates at Fleetwood. Picture: Mark Robinson
Oli Hawkins celebrates at Fleetwood. Picture: Mark Robinson
Brandon Haunstrup. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey to secure youngster’s future

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Pompey’s all-new little and large partnership can thrive.

Oli Hawkins believes he can create a potent link-up with Conor Chaplin to excite Blues fans.

Conor Chaplin in action at Fleetwood. Picture: Mark Robinson

Conor Chaplin in action at Fleetwood. Picture: Mark Robinson

Chaplin and Hawkins were paired together at Fleetwood and dovetailed promisingly in the 2-1 success.

With Brett Pitman sidelined with a hamstring injury, Kenny Jackett turned to the duo at Highbury Stadium and Hawkins got on the scoresheet grabbing his side’s crucial second goal.

It was a blend of silk and steel as Hawkins went up against a physical three-man defence and Chaplin buzzed left and right of the 25-year-old.

The pair look certain to continue now as Jackett’s men return to Fratton Park against Blackpool this weekend.

Despite being without their leading goalscorer, Hawkins is confident he and Chaplin can take on goalscoring expectations for their side.

Hawkins now has eight finishes for his team this season, with Chaplin on five – including two in two this month.

The meeting with Rotherham in September has been the only time the academy product and Hawkins have been partnered, as they operated in front of Pitman in the 1-0 loss.

Jackett was intrigued to see how the pair worked as pair on Tuesday – with Hawkins also seeing their potential.

He said: ‘The little and large thing can work. We could have a chance now.

‘Conor’s a clever player with his movement and we can work well together.

‘All the strikers can offer something different. You can always do with different types of help.’

Hawkins will now be settling back into his natural striking position in the coming weeks.

That’s after a campaign in which the ex Dagenham & Redbridge man has flitted between attacking and defensive duties.

It was a running battle between Hawkins and the Fleetwood defenders on Tuesday night, with the Pompey striker bearing the scars of battle afterwards in scratches around his neck.

It was a challenge Hawkins relished and he felt he more than held his own in a role he will now continue in.

He said: ‘I’m happy to focus on being a forward now.

‘It’s seven goals in the league and one in the cup so far.

‘It was tough at Fleetwood against three, big centre-halves. They want to grapple and fight but I came out of it with a goal to build on.

‘I like to think of myself as a goalscorer and being able to get on the end of crosses in the box. I showed that at Fleetwood and feel I can do that over the next few weeks as I lead the line.’

With options limited, Pompey are set to continue with a young line-up against Blackpool this weekend.

There will be a two-point gap to the play-offs going into the game, as the Blues aim for back-to-back wins.

Hawkins said ‘It’s tough for the next few weeks with the key players injured.

‘But we have the squad and players to cope with it and push on.

‘We need to look to Blackpool now and if we get that win we’re back in the play-off push.

‘I’m just hoping we can do that and come out stronger. We look to that game now and pushing for the play-offs again.’