Why former Portsmouth and Rotherham striker is thinking about Fratton Park while on loan at Blackburn

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Former Pompey striker George Hirst is drawing on his Fratton Park experience to help him through a tough start to life at Blackburn.

With the Championship set to resume this weekend following a three-week break for the World Cup, the 23-year-old finds himself in all too familiar territory with Jon Dahl Tomasson’s side.

The forward is yet to find the back of the net for the Ewood Park outfit, ensuring his goalscoring credentials are under the microscope once again.

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That happened at Rotherham, when the forward finished the 2020-21 season without a goal in 32 games.

And it recurred during his season-long loan on the south coast last term, with Hirst’s first 13 appearances for Danny Cowley having no end product.

All that changed, though, on November 9, 2021.

A goal in Pompey’s 3-0 Papa John’s Trophy win against Crystal Palace under-21s opened the floodgates – and the striker never looked back.

Hirst scored a further 14 goals – 13 of which came in the new year – to finish the season as the Blues’ top scorer and a wanted man.

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Former Pompey loanee George Hirst is waiting to score his first competitive goal for new club Blackburn RoversFormer Pompey loanee George Hirst is waiting to score his first competitive goal for new club Blackburn Rovers
Former Pompey loanee George Hirst is waiting to score his first competitive goal for new club Blackburn Rovers

Wanted by Pompey, but also others, which ultimately saw the Leicester loanee say goodbye to PO4 and hello to Ewood – only after signing a new contract with the Foxes.

Life’s been hard for Hirst in Lancashire, though, with the striker yet to show Rovers fans what he’s capable of.

Nine appearances in all competitions and only two Championship starts is proof that Hirst is down the pecking order at the promotion-chasers.

But following his successful battle to overturn suspicion of his quality at Fratton Park, the front man is determined to prove his doubters wrong again.

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Speaking to the Lancashire Telegraph, he said: ‘It’s something I’ve had to deal with in the past.

‘At Portsmouth, last year, I look back on that as an unbelievable season and I scored a lot of goals, but it didn’t start off that way.

‘It’s not the be all and end all, it’s about how finish not how you start.

‘Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to be stood here with 10 or 15 goals already, that’s what I was coming here hoping for. But it’s not worked out that way and for me.

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‘It’s about working hard, keeping my head down, keep speaking to the gaffer, speaking to the boys and hopefully get back in and among the goals soon.’

Hirst will have given his confidence a major boost with two goals for Blackburn in a 4-0 friendly win against Hearts in Marbella on Friday.

He’s hoping that will help him secure a place in the Rovers squad for their game against rivals Preston on Saturday, having not been included for the defeat to Burnley before the enforced break.

If not, hell just keeping working hard to earn his opportunity.

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Hirst added: ‘Without a doubt, if I could bottle up when I’m hyper-confident and bottle it up for the days when I’m not, then that’d be worth a lot of money.

‘You can’t just give yourself confidence, you have to keep grinding, basics on the training ground and eventually it just clicks.

‘It’s been pretty tough this season so far, and confidence probably hasn’t been quite there.

‘But two goals, albeit in a friendly, with the kind of goals they were, it only helps.

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‘It’s one of those things you don’t know when you’re going to be confident and when you’re not. It’s just something you have to keep working at and eventually it will click.

‘I can’t borrow it off anyone else when I’m short of it. The harder you work the luckier you get and hopefully I can score a few goals moving forward.’