Portsmouth boss Kenny Jackett: Oli Hawkins and James Vaughan scrapping it out for Sunderland starting spot

Oli Hawkins and James Vaughan are shooting it out to spearhead Pompey’s attack at Sunderland.

Thursday, 25th April 2019, 5:44 pm
Updated Thursday, 25th April 2019, 5:48 pm
James Vaughan is vying with Oli Hawkins to face former club Sunderland on Saturday. Picture: Sean Ryan/PinPep

Kenny Jackett is weighing up whether to include Black Cats tormentor Hawkins in Saturday’s promotion battle – or former player Vaughan.

Vaughan has re-emerged as an option following injury to Omar Bogle, culminating in a bright substitute appearance against Coventry.

Replacing Hawkins at half-time, it represented a first outing in five weeks for the 30-year-old, who has endured a frustrating loan spell from Wigan.

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James Vaughan is vying with Oli Hawkins to face former club Sunderland on Saturday. Picture: Sean Ryan/PinPep

Alternately, Hawkins has proven a handful for Sunderland’s defence this term.

The 10-goal striker earned a penalty which saw Glenn Loovens dismissed in the Blues' 3-1 Fratton Park triumph, while he shone as a substitute in the Checkatrade Trophy final.

And Jackett is weighing up which performer is best equipped for the massive Stadium of Light encounter.

He said: ‘Oli has done well against Sunderland this season, but similarly I thought James Vaughan did well when he came on against Coventry, I was very pleased with him.

‘Both of those are good options for me.

‘With Bogle out injured, it’s a straight choice.

‘Oli has been excellent against Sunderland in previous matches, as he has in many games. There are not many players of his type around, he’s a good asset for us.

‘Will their back four be aware of that or will they rise to the occasion? You don’t know, but the fact he did well against the club should be good for his confidence.

‘However, they have changed the centre-halves since those games when he did very well.

‘Now they Jimmy Dunne and Alim Ozturk in the centre of their defence.

‘Whether Oli starts or comes on, he's had a very effective season, I’ve been pleased with him.’

Vaughan made 27 appearances and scored twice for Sunderland during a six-month spell which ended in January 18.

A switch to Wigan ended what proved to be a disappointing spell – and now the striker is at Fratton Park.

Jackett added: ‘James is a very experienced striker waiting for his chance. Obviously because of injury to Omar, it has now come about.

‘On Monday it was 45 minutes each for our strikers and that was a good thing, defenders can get used to playing against forwards, trying to work them out.

‘James has a little bit of everything, he attacks the first ball very well, he’s not as tall as Oli but leaps and can win the first header, while there’s his hold-up play, positioning and information to other people.

‘On Monday it was a very good, all-round game for a number nine.’