Paul Doswell: Hawks up for pre-season visit of Portsmouth

Hawks boss Paul Doswell     Picture: Habibur Rahman
Hawks boss Paul Doswell Picture: Habibur Rahman
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Paul Doswell insisted the Hawks are up for the challenge of taking on Pompey in their showpiece friendly at Westleigh Park.

The National League South side have won their two pre-season games to date against Alresford and Bognor respectively.

Now they face a Blues side that fired 11 past League of Ireland side UCD in their opening friendly on Wednesday night.

Doswell knows the game represents a massive step up in class from the Hawks’ two previous outings, and that a change of gear will be needed from his troops.

But the new Westleigh Park boss believes it’s an occasion that will benefit both his players and the club.

‘This is a big event for the club and we have worked hard to make it a success,’ said Doswell.

‘Both teams warmed up for it with good wins in midweek.

‘Portsmouth put 11 goals past UCD in Ireland and we won at Bognor.

‘At Bognor we passed the ball well and got into good areas.

‘A lot of our players have played professional football so they won't be fazed by taking on Portsmouth.

‘We know it is a game where the opposition will have the lion’s share of the possession.

'That could mean a lot of running around for us, which helps fitness.

'We can limit the amount of running we have to do by keeping a good shape.

'Also, it won't just be all about Portsmouth.

'I am sure we will give them a few issues and things to think about as well.

'By the end, hopefully both teams will get what they need from the game.'

The hosts will be without strikers Danny Kedwell and Alfie Rutherford for the visit of Kenny Jackett’s side.

They picked up injuries in the opening game at Alresford, with both players expected to be out for a couple of weeks.

In their absence, Jonah Ayunga has stepped up to the plate and made a big impression.

He’s scored a brace in both the Hawks’ friendlies so far.

Doswell believes the game will give Ayunga the opportunity to put himself in the shop window.

'Jonah has looked a real handful in the opening games,' added Doswell.

'He is still only 20 years old and learning all the time.

'At six-foot-four and very quick he has all the attributes and we are working on the physical aspects of his game.

‘If he carries on like he has been playing he could earn himself a big-money move.

'Playing against Portsmouth provides him with another great opportunity.'

New keeper Kingsley Latham, on loan from Southampton, is expected to play half the game.

He has been brought in to provide competition for first-choice goalkeeper Ross Worner.