Ex-Portsmouth striker declares Championship ambitions - despite leaving Ipswich to drop to League Two
Former Pompey striker Oli Hawkins insists he still has ambitions to play in the Championship – despite dropping from League One to the Football League's basement division.
Hawkins has departed Ipswich just a year after moving to Portman Road from the Blues to join League Two outfit Mansfield.
The former Dagenham man endured a tough 2020-21 season at the Tractor Boys, scoring only one goal in 23 appearances.
Amid Paul Cook's major squad overhaul in East Anglia, Hawkins was deemed surplus to requirements.
Mansfield took advantage to snap him up for an undisclosed fee, handing the ex-Hemel Hempstead man a two-year deal at Field Mill.
And despite being 29, Hawkins – who netted 18 goals in 96 outings during his three years at Pompey between 2017-2020 – still has the aim to reach the second tier before his career is over.
He told the Mansfield Chad: ‘I am really excited. I am looking forward to getting back to playing football at a team and club that are ambitious to get out of League Two and up into League One. I just want to enjoy it again.
‘I had a two-year deal at Ipswich, but a new manager has come in and just said he is looking elsewhere and wanted to rebuild a new team.
‘So it was a decision of staying there and not really playing as much or look elsewhere, go out, enjoy it again and get game time.
‘I just realised that at the age I am I just want to get out there and play football, prove to people that I'm a good player and especially go to a team that are looking to get promoted.
‘I weighed my options up here and looked at the manager and the team itself and thought where I could get the best out of myself with formations and style of play and the club's ambitions. I just thought it sounds like a good move and a good plan and hopefully it's successful.
‘It was a brilliant time in my career on the south coast.
‘They are a huge club with a nice big fan base. Unfortunately, we didn't get promoted though came close a few times.
‘My aim is to play in the Championship and get as high as I can.
‘My main reason for choosing Mansfield is that it's a team that wants to get back up there and I feel like they have huge potential to get promoted to League One and then look to go again in League One.’
Former Pompey skipper Tom Naylor also almost joined Mansfield this summer before opting to a switch to Wigan at the 11th hour.