Kenny Jackett reveals where Oli Hawkins' Portsmouth future lies after return to side
Oli Hawkins’ Pompey future is set to be as a defender.
Kenny Jackett has confirmed he plans to permanently convert the striker to a centre-back after shining there for his side.
The 27-year-old has been missing for two months with a foot injury, but looked calm and composed as he played an important role in Pompey’s collecting their eighth clean sheet of the season.
Now after impressive glimpses of his ability defensively before being sidelined, Jackett revealed his plans to settle the 6ft 5in powerhouse at the back.
He said: ‘The timing is right now for Oli to go from centre-forward to centre-back.
‘We’ll work with him definitely, but I do believe there’s a player there.
‘Looking at his age and experience I believe he can bring a lot to the team. It’ll be interesting to see how he goes from here on in.
‘I think so (defence is where his future lies), though I wouldn’t hesitate to use him up front.
‘But I’d like to change and change once then let him work at it.
‘If he makes mistakes he can try to come through it and rectify it as opposed to changing position.
‘It’s not like going from midfield to right-back, say, centre forward to centre-half is a big difference. So I’d like to settle him down and find his feet there.’
Jackett explained it’s always been his plan to have a closer look at Hawkins defensively, but that had to wait as the former Dagenham & Redbridge man was hindered by problems this term.
That restricted him to three appearances before Saturday, with the Pompey boss interested to see how Hawkins now progresses.
Jackett added: ‘He played well on Saturday and it’s been some time coming, so the big thing for Oli now is getting a run without any injuries. It feels like his season is just starting.’
‘I was always going to give Oli a run at centre-back it’s just not happened much this season.
‘Wycombe he played well and he came off against Southampton. He did well in those games.
‘It’s been a frustrating season for him up to now.
‘He’s another player where it’s what he does between now and the end of the season. That’s the important thing.
‘His frustration is more because of injury, but at right centre-back I’m always going to give him a chance and an opportunity.
‘I think he can really help you with set-pieces. I Saturday he was quite calm on the ball and I felt he passed it well. That’s something he can bring.
‘He was fine on Saturday and it will be interesting now.
‘One of the things which came of a disappointing day at Wycombe was for the early part of the game Burgess and Hawkins looked a good pairing.
‘Again, we’ll see how it develops and how he does, but in terms of positioning he certainly has the basics to play there.’