‘Phenomenal’ Hawkins earns Pompey praise

Oli Hawkins. Picture: Joe Pepler
Oli Hawkins. Picture: Joe Pepler
Tom Naylor. Picture: Portsmouth FC

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Joe Gallen has lauded ‘phenomenal’ Oli Hawkins’ Pompey impact.

Following three goals in two league matches, the 25-year-old returned to defence for last weekend’s visit of Scunthorpe.

We would have taken seven goals if Oli had just played up front all the time, that’s a good start, but he has done that and gone back in defence as well

Joe Gallen

He then served as a member of a back three which helped secure a 1-1 draw.

Hawkins’ versatility has been a bonus for the Blues, riding to the aid of a side wracked with injury problems this season.

Despite being asked to play in unfamiliar positions, however, the former Dagenham & Redbridge man continues to impress during a maiden campaign at League One level.

And Pompey’s assistant manager has sung his praises.

Gallen said: ‘Oli has done – and is doing – amazing.

‘He has played number nine, number 10, on the right side of a back four and now in a back three.

‘He has scored seven goals and won some man of the matches when playing at the back – and has come from the National League!

‘I will go on record saying he has done phenomenal so far this season.

‘Oli has gone from being centre-forward to centre-half to centre-forward and back to centre-half again against Scunthorpe.

‘I thought he had some iffy moments on Saturday but by the end of it came through really strong and had another good game.

‘If we play that system at Rotherham I bet he won’t make any mistakes. That kid just quietly gets on with it and works it out himself.

‘He deserves a hell of a lot of credit, that is tough going.

‘We would have taken seven goals if he had just played up front all the time. That’s a good start. But he has done that and gone back in defence as well.’