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Hawkins confident heading into second-half of season

4 January 2023

Defender Oli Hawkins says the Stags are ready to kick on for the second-half of the campaign and push for promotion.

The former Ipswich Town man has made a total of 25 appearances for Nigel Clough’s side this season, who currently sit in seventh position in Sky Bet League Two.

And although the 30-year-old believes the amber and blue are in a better position than this point last season, he says they are ready to fight their way up the table and aim for promotion to Sky Bet League One.

Speaking to iFollow Stags in a news conference at RH Academy this morning, Hawkins said: “I think [it’s been] an improvement on last season, not a great improvement but we’re in a better spot than we were last season. [We] still [have] another half [of the campaign] to go and with the squad we’ve got, the fanbase and everyone within the club, we’re ready to kick on for the second-half of the season to try and get going and push for promotion.”

Hawkins, who can feature at both centre-back and striker has been a pivotal part to Nigel Clough’s structure this campaign.

Assessing his own displays so far, he said: “[My performances have been] pretty similar to last year really, just making sure that I’m available, fit to play when selected and just giving my all wherever I’m playing whether it’s at the back or upfront [and to] do the best I can to score a goal [or] keep a clean sheet and just do the best I can to try and help get the team promoted.

“I haven’t been up there for a while and I’m not used to that anymore but at least I know when I do go up there, I’m confident and capable of getting a goal.”

As well as appearing in forward areas against Hartlepool, the 30-year-old also featured upfront in the dying stages of Stags’ New Year’s Day defeat to Walsall.

“I don’t miss the running. When you’re a striker there is a lot of running into channels and stuff and I haven’t missed that. It’s just how games go in this league really, when Lucas [Akins] isn't playing or Bowz [Jordan Bowery] we haven’t got that focal point. 

“We’ve got Oatesy [Rhys Oates] and Swanny [Will Swan] who are obviously unbelievable players and quick but their game is not being a target man. 

“It helps the team out that I can be thrown up there. I’ve done it all my career really, being up there, winning headers and trying to make things happen.”

Mansfield take on Barrow at One Call Stadium on Saturday afternoon as they look to strengthen their hold on a play-off position. 

Speaking ahead of the visit of the Bluebirds, Oli said: “They definitely are [hard to break down] at their place because of the conditions and the area [that their stadium is in] with the wind and everything.

“Defensively they’re probably one of the biggest back fours you’ll get in this league. They’ve got all different kinds of players in front of them, small, big, quick [players]. They’re a difficult team [to play against].”


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