Oli Hawkins: I can still shine as a Portsmouth striker

Oli Hawkins is enjoying playing at centre-half - but won't give up on returning to striking duties. Picture: Nigel Keene
Oli Hawkins is enjoying playing at centre-half - but won't give up on returning to striking duties. Picture: Nigel Keene
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Oli Hawkins is convinced he can still make a centre-forward impact at Pompey.

But the 27-year-old concedes he has enjoyed adjusting to the demands of a central-defensive role.

All of Hawkins’ five appearances so far during an injury-hampered season have arrived at centre-half.

Kenny Jackett has identified the former Dagenham & Redbridge man as the solution to the defensive frailties which have dogged the Blues this term.

However, the change of remit has deprived Hawkins of the chance to feature as a striker – a responsibility he misses.

And while he is revelling in regular first-team football at centre-half, he won't yet give up on his former position.

Hawkins said: ‘I still want to be seen and regarded as a centre-forward and not be discarded.

‘I still feel I can do a lot for the team up front – but I'm doing okay at the back at the moment and our attacking players are doing well.

‘I don't want to kick up a fuss or anything, I still want to play up front for Pompey and for my future, but I have to take into consideration I can possibly play at the back as well and do a job there.

‘Defending is a learning curve for me, there will be mistakes I’ll eventually eradicate. On Tuesday night, the penalty I gave away was a striker’s challenge, not knowing and being a bit lazy with it.

‘Maybe it could be a future position for me, because I have done so well. People are praising me, so it’s now at the back of my mind that maybe I should take it further and become a centre-half.

‘However, I want to be a centre-forward for the next few years and at the moment it is very confusing. I am 50/50.

‘Some days I want to be a centre-forward, some days I want to be a centre-half. At the moment I’m seeing myself as a centre-half – but I’m not throwing away the centre-forward role.’

Hawkins netted 10 goals in 48 appearances last season, while operating exclusively as a centre-forward.

His input helped the Blues finish fourth in League One, while he netted the penalty which secured the Checkatrade Trophy.

Hawkins added: ‘We have Ellis, Pits and John, three great strikers, all different – and I think I’m also different from them.

‘There are a lot of opinions and many fans probably won’t agree, but I still think I can bring a lot to the team playing up front.

‘I feel this Pompey team needs me up front as well as at the back at the moment – and I’m just happy to play.’