Kenny Jackett: Still a role for Oli Hawkins at Portsmouth
Kenny Jackett is adamant Oli Hawkins still has a role to play in Pompey’s campaign.
Injuries and squad competition have conspired to deny the towering striker an appearance in the opening five matches of the season.
Following a back issue sustained in pre-season, Hawkins is presently recovering from a foot problem, with a full training return expected this week.
Jackett previously admitted the 27-year-old has attracted interest during the transfer window, yet wants to retain his striking services.
The former Dagenham & Redbridge forward netted 10 goals in 48 appearances last term, while his penalty clinched the Checkatrade Trophy.
And Pompey’s boss believes Hawkins will play a part as the campaign progresses.
Jackett said: ‘We have freshened up the number nine and number 10 positions, with Marquis and Harrison coming in.
‘Oli has gone down the pecking order a little bit in the number nine, which is tough for him, but similarly he can fight back and it’s a long season.
‘Certainly I’m not rushing to worry about Oli too much in terms of being here, because they'll be times and occasions and games when we will need him.
‘The games are going to come in batches, hopefully the injuries don’t, but it does happen that way.
‘Being top heavy at the top end of the pitch is not something, as manager, you worry about. Usually you are scrambling around trying to find a centre-forward.
‘Similarly, there will be a part to play for Oli, he’s a good player and even though early on I haven’t used him yet, it does give you good confidence him being there.’
John Marquis and Ellis Harrison have this summer been recruited to boost Jackett’s striking pool, both requiring transfer fees.
Pompey also have the option of playing Brett Pitman in the lone striker role, although he prefers operating as a number 10.
Regardless, Hawkins is faced with improved competition for a starting XI place and, when fit, can expect a fight to even get on the bench.
Although, with his height and selfless play, he continues to offer alternative options when compared to his rivals.
Jackett added: ‘Last season Oli’s hold-up play was excellent.
‘Maybe he is at the stage now where if he plays again I have to put him with a partner and with a quick one. It will be interesting to see him and Ellis play, for example.
‘Something like that can get the best of him in terms of this system, but similarly Oli Hawkins has a lot to offer – and at the right time can do well for us.’