Pompey striker seeking to prove Football League worth

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Oliver Hawkins is backing himself to be the latest non-league talent to successfully gatecrash the Football League.

And the 26-year-old is using former Hemel Hempstead team-mates Jamal Lowe and Nicke Kabamba as his inspiration.

Pompey striker Oliver Hawkins. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey striker Oliver Hawkins. Picture: Joe Pepler

Hawkins was handed an instant Pompey debut against Rotherham following his deadline-day arrival.

It represented a first outing at League One level – and only a fifth Football League career start.

The former Dagenham & Redbridge striker made 18 appearances and scored once after joining in the second half of their 2015-16 League Two relegation campaign.

It meant a return to the non-league scene after only four months away.

To be fair, the minute Nicke came to Hemel, I always said to him: “Do you know what, me and you will end up playing in the league together somehow”

Oliver Hawkins

Now Hawkins is hoping to finally make his mark in the Football League under the tutelage of Kenny Jackett.

He said: ‘I had four starts in League Two and the rest from the bench before Dagenham & Redbridge went down.

‘In terms of actual league football, I wouldn’t class myself as experienced, but I know I can do it. It’s just I’ve never been given the opportunity.

‘I was able to have a full season at Dagenham in the National League and showed what I can do at that level – I know I can do it in other leagues.

‘For a year-and-a-half at Dagenham I was working hard, knowing I wanted to be a Football League player.

‘When I was at Northwood and Nicke was at Uxbridge we were rivals, we played against each other.

‘To be fair, the minute he came to Hemel, I always said to him: “Do you know what, me and you will end up playing in the league together somehow”.

‘And three years later we are both at Portsmouth!

‘It’s a very small world, I also played with Jamal at Hemel – both I would class as friends of mine.

‘With them – and myself – going through the non-league, I believe it helps you be more hungry and get the drive to progress.

‘We will make sure this club does well and we will try our hardest.’

Within hours of being recruited from the Daggers for an undisclosed fee, Kabamba left Pompey for a loan deal at Colchester until January.

It meant the opportunity for Hawkins to once again line up alongside his former non-league colleague is delayed.

At least he made his Blues bow in the same side as Lowe, the pair last team-mates while representing Hemel Hempstead against Concord Rangers in October 2015.

He added: ‘I played with Nicke a few times, then he went to Hampton & Richmond and later I went to Dagenham.

‘You can use different sorts of strikers, such as two big men but it is down to the manager and how you train and get on.

‘I’m going to be working really hard here to show what I can do and hopefully I can get the goals.’