Pompey boss doubts strike pair can form ‘natural partnership’

Oli Hawkins is set for a return to defence. Picture: Joe Pepler
Oli Hawkins is set for a return to defence. Picture: Joe Pepler
Louis Dennis is ready to grab his chance with Pompey. Picture: Neil Weld/Portsmouth FC

Pompey recruit eager to capitalise on second chance

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Kenny Jackett is lining up Oli Hawkins for a return to Pompey’s defence.

And the Blues’ boss admitted he doubts the striker forming a ‘natural partnership’ with Brett Pitman further upfield.

Generally we haven’t had enough when we have played with those as a pair. But are they both assets? Yes

Kenny Jackett

With Christian Burgess serving a one-match ban, Hawkins is the likely replacement for the trip to MK Dons.

The 25-year-old has been selected ahead of Pitman in attack during Pompey’s last two matches, with Kal Naismith and then Connor Ronan operating behind.

Jackett has conceded that concerns over lack of mobility has prompted him to largely shelve the idea of Hawkins and the Blues’ leading scorer as a front pairing.

Certainly Pitman will be back in the side on Saturday, with Ronan expected to continue serving as the number 10.

And for Jackett, that represents a better balance.

He said: ‘We’ve had one or two games when they (Hawkins and Pitman) have played together, but I don’t see it necessarily as a natural partnership.

‘I don’t really see enough mobility in it all the time, to be honest.

‘We’ve had few games with it. Northampton probably worked and maybe later in the game when we are putting the ball into the box.

‘But generally we haven’t had enough when we have played with those as a pair. But are they both assets? Yes.

‘You need competition, you need a strong bench and should you get injuries to two good number nines, that is better than none.

‘Against Doncaster we had Ronan off the front man and it was close between Hawkins and Pitman for that role.

‘I wasn’t particularly worried which one it was as both have different strengths and are our top scorers.

‘Hawkins hasn’t had as many games as Brett, but has still got seven goals pretty quickly.’

Pitman’s 81st minute leveller against Doncaster represented his 15th of the season.

It was also a first League One goal from open play since November 18 against Southend.

The former Bournemouth man was a lively presence after appearing from the bench to replace Hawkins.