Striker has shown his importance to Portsmouth approach

Oli Hawkins' contribution to Pompey's strong start to the season has been saluted.

Monday, 27th August 2018, 7:02 pm
Updated Monday, 3rd September 2018, 12:18 pm
Pompey striker Oli Hawkins has taken on an important role for the team. Picture: Joe Pepler

The striker's wait to grab a first goal this campaign goes on after failing to hit the back of the net at Doncaster.

But Hawkins' influence on the Blues' opening to the season has been highlighted by assistant boss Joe Gallen.

The 26-year-old has four assists to his name so far this term and has provided a focal point up front for his side.

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Pompey striker Oli Hawkins has taken on an important role for the team. Picture: Joe Pepler

Gallen feels Hawkins has offered an important presence.

He said: '˜Oli's had the shirt and he's done his job really well. He's been a very good option for us.

'˜He's been a part of so many goals for us, Oli. He's played his part with his presence.

'˜Even the first goal at Bristol Rovers, his presence saw him nudge the defender out of the way. It bounced to Ronan (Curtis) who set-up Gareth Evans, who produced a really good finish.

'˜So Oli is playing his part. He'll want to score but that's what we expect from our number nines whoever they may be. But he's made a decent start, even if he will be thinking he wants to score.

'˜He's been a huge part of the goals Jamal (Lowe), Ronan and Gareth have scored. They've got eight between and Oli's played a part in those.'

Gallen has told Hawkins to add aggression to his game and use his 6ft 5in frame to his advantage.

Kenny Jackett's No2 noted a new haircut for the striker could contribute to a more forceful mindset.

He added: '˜We spoke about him getting a skinhead '“ then he did. He mentioned it and I thought it was a good idea.

'˜He's a nice bloke but he has to go on the pitch and turn into this other bloke, who's not very nice.

'˜That's without giving away too many fouls. Sometimes you see centre-forwards give away too many fouls. He's got to be aggressive without conceding free-kicks and turning over possession.'

Hawkins was withdrawn at the interval at Doncaster for Brett Pitman, with the pair now vying to start against Plymouth.

Gallen feels Hawkins' role will be key in the coming months.

He said: '˜He'll become more important. When the pitches deteriorate the ball will more than likely be going a little more the direct way.

'˜Whoever plays number nine we will be asking them to make the ball stick. They have to win headers and we're looking for them to score, ultimately.