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I’m happy to play where required - Hawkins

1 December 2021

Mansfield Town’s Oli Hawkins feels it was ‘nice’ to return to his natural position of striker in the fine 2-1 victory away at Crawley on Saturday 27 November but insists his main focus is to ‘help the team’, regardless of the position he plays.

The 29-year-old scored and assisted the Stags’ winner last Saturday on his return to the forward line.

“It was a strange feeling really. It has been quite a while since I have played up there,” he said.

“I’ve [recently] been so used to playing at the back, worrying about being a defensive player and being defensive-minded.

“It was nice to be back up there and to cap it [off] with a goal, an assist and a win. I enjoyed it.”

Hawkins’ excellent display on his return to playing upfront saw him combine well with strike-partner Rhys Oates. The former Portsmouth man played a delightful pass for Oates to set up the Stags’ winner.

“I knew that if I could drop in, pick up the ball and look to put him in as quickly as I can then we might have a chance [at getting a goal].

“I think that [the Oates goal] was the first time I was able to do it in the second-half and it ended up being a good assist and a great goal,” he said.

“My game isn’t running in behind like he does. If I can hold the ball up and lay it off or do what I did with the goal and get it, turn and look to put him in then it helps the team.”

Hawkins has played the majority of the season at centre-back, a challenge he enjoys.

“Where I am next, I don’t know. I just work hard at it [if played at striker or centre-back].

“It’s a very tough position and I do really enjoy it when I play there. If I play there [centre-back] again this season then I will be happy to.

“We have a lot of quality defenders [available] and some more that are coming back from injury as well.

“If it’s a case of me not really needing to be back there or if it isn’t, then I am happy.”

After recording six victories out of the last seven games, Hawkins feels the Stags are building momentum as the club enter the busy festive period.

“At the start of the season or the first quarter of the season we felt we had the players and capabilities [to succeed] but it just wasn’t coming off on a Saturday.

“In the last seven games you’ve seen we are able to do it. In some of the results we have dug in to get the wins.

“If we keep it up [the excellent run of form] then I can only see us going one way and that’s up the table.”

Over 3,300 Mansfield fans will be at Keepmoat Stadium this Saturday for the Emirates FA Cup second round tie away at Doncaster Rovers. The Stags’ number 12 praised the supporters for selling out tickets for this weekend.

“All season the home fans have been very good but the away fans definitely [have been just as impressive]. We’ve taken some really good numbers to places this season.

“Selling out in the FA Cup at the weekend is going to give us a boost to have a real good go and good chance to see us win and go through to the next round.”


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