Pompey striker reveals defending’s in the blood

Pompey striker Oli Hawkins Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey striker Oli Hawkins Picture: Joe Pepler
Robert Prosinecki celebrates a goal for Pompey

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Defending is in the blood and, according to Oli Hawkins, the future may hold permanent residence.

But the 25-year-old remains focused on racking up the Pompey goals after reclaiming his favoured role.

It’s maybe a position I might go to when my career comes towards an end

Oli Hawkins

Hawkins earned plaudits – and rightly so – for a two-and-a-half-game stint as an emergency centre-half in the face of a Blues injury crisis.

For a brief time the towering striker found himself following in the footsteps of his dad, Steven.

Hawkins senior was a central defender for the likes of Harrow Borough and Southall before turning to management.

His son has largely operated as a forward throughout his career, yet concedes a whiff of defensive talent may have subsequently been handed down.

At present, though, striking remains his forte, with him reaping four goals in nine appearances – including two against MK Dons on Saturday.

And Hawkins will again be leading the line for tonight’s trip to Doncaster Rovers (7.45pm).

He said: ‘I’d never before played centre-half apart from a couple of games at Dagenham & Redbridge.

‘Although, at Hemel Hempstead I would be up front and when we were 1-0 or 2-1 up with 15-20 minutes to go I would be asked to drop back to centre-half to win every header.

‘I guess it was because of my height they picked on me and made me go there.

‘My father played centre-half, so perhaps it’s a natural sort of thing for me and rubbed off a little bit, but I never even played there when younger.

‘He was a well-known non-league player with the likes of Southall and Harrow Borough who went into management quite young.

‘But he was a centre-half all his life and maybe there’s a little glimpse of him in me.

‘My dad has an opinion on centre-half and knows what he’s talking about, I guess – not that I had chance to ask him after being put there against Oldham.

‘That was purely spur of the moment and not something I was focusing on. It was a case of “Can you play there, yes, then let’s go”.

‘It’s maybe a position I might go to when my career comes towards an end.

‘If I can get some games there now for Portsmouth I’m sure in a couple of years time, if I want to ever stop there, I will be comfortable.

‘I am glad I can adapt to it – but I am focusing on scoring goals at Portsmouth.’

The return of Christian Burgess from his calf problem has enabled Hawkins to be restored up front.

But the former Hillingdon Borough player admitted he found the switch ‘comfortable’.

Hawkins added: ‘I felt really comfortable against Gillingham, although I am not saying it was an easy game.

‘It’s definitely rare among strikers, but I’m hoping it’s a good thing and people can pick up on that I can play both positions and am versatile.

‘It’s a case of just getting in the right positions, winning the headers, winning the first balls and not making mistakes.

‘You also get more time on the ball, so have more of a picture. As a centre-forward you have your back to goal.’