Kenny Jackett explains why Oli Hawkins has returned to Portsmouth striker duties
Kenny Jackett has explained why Oli Hawkins has reverted back to Pompey striker duties.
The boss felt the former Dagenham & Redbridge man made too many mistakes when featuring as a makeshift centre-back this season.
In his opening seven appearances of an injury-hit campaign, Hawkins played in the heart of the Blues defence.
But he gave away a penalty in the 3-2 win over Rotherham, survived a big spot-kick shout in the FA Cup success against Altrincham and misjudged a clearance for Peterborough’s opening goal in last month's 2-2 draw at Fratton Park.
Christian Burgess and Sean Raggett have subsequently been Jackett’s preferred pairing in central defence.
Hawkins came off the bench to feature up front at Gillingham on New Year's Day, before spearheading the attack in the 2-1 EFL Trophy win over Walsall last week.
The 27-year-old arrived on the south coast in the summer of 2017 as a forward and led the line for the majority of last season's failed League One promotion bid.
And that’s the remit he’ll again occupy for the remainder of this term.
Blues boss Jackett said: ‘I did feel in terms of his work at the back, there were one or two mistakes too many.
‘I thought Oli played well against Walsall (up front). It was his first game for quite a while and he had quite a good game.
‘He was unlucky with a chance in the first half when he turned and hooked his shot over the bar because it would have been great if he’d got a goal.
‘Oli also played John Marquis in a few times and they linked up very well.
‘He hasn’t played many games at all. His last start was against Peterborough, which was a 2-2 draw.
‘He had injuries during the first half of the season and hasn’t been getting in the side recently, but he played well.’
Hawkins finds himself behind summer-signings Ellis Harrison and Marquis in the attacking pecking order.
But Jackett insisted he still had plenty of faith in the former non-league ace.
He added: ‘Oli is a good striker. We have obviously brought in other options but Portsmouth is a good club and that’s what you should have.
‘We value him as staff, the other players do as well and we like him around.
‘He had a frustrating start to the season where he couldn’t get going because of injuries but hopefully he can get going in the second half of the season.
‘He is not a player I particularly want to give up on.’