Striker Hawkins content to step into Pompey defensive role

OLI HAWKINS has admitted he felt ‘discarded’ when he was overlooked by manager Kenny Jackett for an attacking role in the Pompey side this season, but is now more than happy to slot into the defensive position he has been asked to play.

The 27-year-old weighed in with 10 goals last season but has found his route to the No.9 position this campaign blocked by the club’s summer signings. With Ellis Harrison and John Marquis currently first choice up front, the chances for Hawkins have been limited, however, Jackett has recognised there is much more to the 6ft 5ins player than a focal point in attack.

Despite his return to the first team recently as a central defender, Hawkins is not yet ready to make the switch permanently.

“I’ve been a centre-forward since turning pro, but have played the odd game at the back when it’s needed,” said Hawkins, who may be rested for the visit of Altrincham on Saturday with Sean Raggett available.

“The gaffer said he knew I could play there (at the back) and with injuries and new strikers coming in, he thought I could have a good stint in defence.”

Hawkins found the lack of opportunities in attack disheartening at first, but has now come to terms with the role the manager wants him to play at present.

He added: “It was hard at first because in the back of my head I was wondering why I wasn’t even in contention. I felt a bit discarded.

“But I’ve since had conversations with the manager and he just sees me as a centre-half at this moment of time. But for me it’s just about playing games – whether that’s up front or at the back doesn’t really matter too much.”

Pompey are expected to make several changes from the side that beat Rotherham 3-2 in the pulsating clash at Fratton Park on Tuesday, as they play host to Altrincham in the FA Cup second round.