Portsmouth boss Kenny Jackett takes the heat off his strikers ahead of new season
Kenny Jackett took the pressure of his strikers ahead of the new season and insisted: It’s everyone’s responsibility to get amongst the goals.
The Blues approach their 2019-20 opener against Shrewsbury with three new attacking additions – Ellis Harrison, Ryan Williams and Marcus Harness.
Williams and Harness will compete for a place in the three positions directly behind the main striker, with Harrison brought in to bolster Jackett’s options at the top of the forward line.
Last term, Hawkins was often the man the Pompey manager called upon to lead his attack, scoring 10 goals in 48 appearances.
Brett Pitman and January loan arrivals Omar Bogle and James Vaughan were also tasked with leading the line on occasions, giving the Blues plenty of depth on paper.
But none really had the desired impact.
Vaughan departed without registering a goal, Bogle netted four, while the majority of Pitman’s 13 strikes for the season came from him operating in the number 10 role.
Pitman’s goals from the hole, along with those of Jamal Lowe (17), Gareth Evans (13), and Ronan Curtis (12) – Jackett’s other options behind the central striker – proved vital as Pompey finished the season in fifth place, before suffering play-off heartache at the hands of Sunderland.
And Jackett believes that contribution will once again be of the utmost importance – along with goals from other areas of the pitch – if the Blues are to return to the Championship.
Harrison, who arrived at Fratton Park following a £450,000 move from Ipswich, is yet to get off the mark for his new employers in pre-season.
Meanwhile, Hawkins hasn't featured at all this summer after picking up a back injury in Ireland.
Jackett said: ‘We do work hard on our wingers, our wide men being able to get in close to our centre-forward.
'It's something we do in training all the time, being able to support that number nine as much as possible and take that responsibility to get shots in, get between the posts and get good goals totals across the front four positions.
'I do understand that quite often that number nine role can be quite an unselfish role for the three behind.
'But as long as we are scoring goals, and maybe a Ben Close or Ross McCrorie is coming through from midfield, and we're strong in set-pieces, that's the balance for goals really.’
Last season, 19 different players scored for Pompey in all competitions.
Close contributed more goals than any other player outside Jackett's attacking options. He scored nine in total, with eight of those coming since the start of February.
Matt Clarke was the highest scoring defender with four.