Pompey striker revelling proving League One worth

Oli Hawkins toasted a scoring return to his favoured centre-forward role and insisted: There's plenty more to come.

Monday, 16th October 2017, 7:01 am
Updated Monday, 11th December 2017, 10:12 pm
Oli Hawks celebrates. Picture: Joe Pepler

The 25-year-old was restored to more familiar surroundings after Christian Burgess’ comeback from injury.

Hawkins had served impressively as a makeshift central defender in the previous two-and-a-half fixtures.

Yet he was back leading the line against MK Dons on Saturday – and responded by netting twice in a 2-0 success.

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Oli Hawks celebrates. Picture: Joe Pepler

It took the former Dagenham & Redbridge man’s goal tally to four since arriving at Fratton Park on deadline day.

Hawkins has swiftly negotiated the step from non-league to League One, with apparent ease.

And he believes he can continue to thrive in his natural position.

He said: ‘It was a crazy week adapting, really.

Oli Hawks celebrates. Picture: Joe Pepler

‘The first training session this week I was back up front and I’m sure the first couple of things I did were not normal!

‘I felt “What am I doing?”, I had to adapt to it. Once I am up there, though, it comes naturally to me.

‘The first goal on Saturday was good for me. I am not really known as a fox in the box, I like crosses in the air, however, it is something I’ve worked on with Blakey (Robbie Blake) all week.

‘Since I have been here he has been telling me to make sure my runs should be this and that, I’ve really worked on my runs, so was glad to do it against MK Dons.

‘I know the more I train hard then I will adapt to League One. I always knew I could become a League One player and establish myself – and it is sort of showing now.

‘I still think a few more weeks and I’ll get more comfortable, I’m still learning.

‘Everyone says it’s a massive leap from non-league and before I came here I prepared myself to think of it as a massive step.

‘Robbie, Joe Gallen and the gaffer are always telling me and coaching me, giving me advice, and as long as I listen then everything will pan out.’

Hawkins broke the deadlock against MK Dons on 14 minutes, converting Matty Kennedy’s left-wing cross.

He then sealed the result in first-half stoppage time, following good work from Jamal Lowe down the right.

Yet his all-round game also stood out in the continued injury absence of skipper and leading scorer Brett Pitman.

He added: ‘We did really well in the first half, not just playing but winning second balls, and earned a comfortable lead.

‘The second half was a bit harder, we had to dig in and asked to defend too many free-kicks, while the sun was in our eyes.

‘That’s three wins in a row and hopefully we can carry on the momentum.

‘We’ve got a few injuries still, but once they are back this squad is capable of getting into the top six.

‘It proves how good the squad is when you have injuries and can adapt and cope with them.’