Portsmouth weigh up throwing Hawkins in against Luton

Pompey are weighing up whether to pitch fit-again Oli Hawkins straight into their top-of-the-table clash at Luton.

Monday, 28th January 2019, 5:02 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 7:31 pm
Oli Hawkins has not featured for Pompey since New Year's Day against AFC Wimbledon. Picture: Joe Pepler

However, Nathan Thompson is being held back for a return against Doncaster next weekend.

The pair were today in full training to bolster Kenny Jackett’s squad.

A torn hamstring sidelined Thompson for eight matches, while Hawkins’ calf issue has rendered him absent for the last six games.

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Now Pompey’s boss must decide if tomorrow night’s trip to Luton (7.45pm) represents the ideal opportunity for their first-team comeback.

Certainly the availability of both strengthens Jackett’s selection options.

But Joe Gallen is wary of rushing the pair following injury.

The Blues’ assistant boss said: ‘They trained this morning and were fine. Whether it is too early for Luton, we will see.

‘You look at their body shapes, they are not natural athletes and could do with a week’s training, really.

‘In the case of Oli, he feels really good and is very important for us – they both are – but Oli is very improved.

‘Even 15-20 minutes of Oli Hawkins is still something, therefore it’s still a little bit up for grabs for him. We have to weigh it up.

‘The calf injury he’s had is the result of a previous knock. It wasn’t the same injury, but the result of a kick in his calf. We have to be careful with him.

‘With the size of Oli, it’s easy for us to say “Oh, get out there”, but those 6ft 5in lads must be looked after right.

‘We need for both to come back – and then to stay back.’

Hawkins has scored seven goals in 28 appearances this season.

The Blues have clearly missed the towering striker's presence since his most recent appearance against AFC Wimbledon on New Year’s Day.

The team have subsequently lost both league outings in his absence, although remain in the Checkatrade Trophy and FA Cup.

Popular right-back Thompson tore his hamstring in the second half of the Boxing Day trip to Gillingham.

It is the second spell on the sidelines for the rock solid defender, following injury on the opening day against Luton.

Gallen added: ‘In the case of Nathan, he really needs a week’s training.

‘Nathan had a hamstring tear so you have to be careful, but he’s naturally a very good player and we need him back.

‘However, you don’t take a risk with him.’