One of the best of his kind - but Kenny Jackett wants striker Oli Hawkins to bring Portsmouth cutting edge, too
Oli Hawkins’ continuing importance in Pompey’s attacking play has been pinpointed.
But Kenny Jackett admitted the striker can’t afford to neglect goalscoring in favour of bringing an all-round contribution to his side’s play.
The Blues boss feels Hawkins is one of the best hold-up players in the game and was fundamental to his team for much of last season.
Jackett also felt it was the 27-year-old providing a focal point which was central to the goals which came from the likes of Ronan Curtis, Gareth Evans and Jamal Lowe.
Hawkins himself bagged 10 finishes, including a run of six efforts from eight games.
Jackett reckons his confidence in front of goal dropped off last season, as the focus turned to bringing others into play.
He said: ‘In terms of how we played for two-thirds of last season, Oli did give us a good platform to work off.
‘The three scorers - Lowe, Evans and Curtis, and Pitman in and shifting Evans for a while - for those three and Ben Close coming through from midfield Oli was important.
‘A good player with his back to goal is really important.
‘It does then go that that guy can lose a bit of confidence if he doesn’t score enough goals.
‘You’re a centre-forward, what’s your job? To score goals.
‘I think towards the end Oli lost a little bit of confidence on that goalscoring.
‘Similarly, when he’s on form I think there’s no better player around in terms of back to goal who brings other people into it and helps other people score.
‘But I do accept there has to be a decent contribution from him, too.’
Jackett broke down exactly how he wants Hawkins to play to get the best out of the 6ft 5in powerhouse’s attributes.
The Pompey boss wants to see the former Dagenham & Redbridge man bring others into play while also maintaining a presence in the box.
He added: ‘You need the ball to be held up and retained. For your moves going forward it’s really important.
‘In an ideal world you want someone who can play back to goal, hold it up well and lay the ball off, but still have some pace over the top.
‘For Oli, it’s in terms of his hold-up play and some would say his heading, but all we really want to do is get it on his chest.
‘We want it in to his chest, in to his feet, get it, lay if off and then get to the back post.
‘That then brings in some pace and mobility behind him.
‘I do think people like Jamal and Ronan benefited from his natural game last season.’