‘Big Oli has been fantastic... but I want him to score!’ – Lambert on striker Hawkins
Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert now wants striker Oli Hawkins to add some goals to his impressive all-round play.
Picked up on a free transfer following his release from League One rivals Portsmouth earlier this summer, Hawkins has quickly become the main man up top for Town due to the fact that both James Norwood and Aaron Drinan have suffered medium-term injuries.
The 6ft 5in front man has started the last three league games and, while he is yet to get off the mark, his link play at the tip of a 4-3-3 system has helped the goals to flow from midfield and wide areas.
“Big Oli has been brilliant,” said Lambert. “He’s a really good guy and has fitted in so well, both on and off the pitch.
“He’s given us a totally different option to what we had. His general game has been fantastic. I’ve been absolutely delighted with him.”
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Goals from midfield/wide has been an issue for Ipswich for many years, but all that has changed at the start of this season with Gwion Ewdards (4), Teddy Bishop (3) and Jon Nolan (3) all chipping in regularly.
Asked if there was less pressure on the central striker to carry the goals burden in this current system, Lambert replied: “No, no, I want them to score! Oli will want to score, because that’s his goal.
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“But he’s setting people up, which is great. The way he brings people into the game, his general movement, his hold-up play – it’s great.
“I do think the goals will come for him. Against Rochdale he could have had a hat-trick.”
Lambert’s other striker options are Kayden Jackson, who made his return from a groin injury off the bench during last weekend’s 4-1 win at Blackpool, and Freddie Sears, who has been playing wide left.
With Norwood (hamstring) and Drinan (thigh) out for several weeks, the Blues boss admitted he would have bolstered his attacking options before today’s 5pm transfer deadline had finances allowed.
OLI HAWKINS’ GOAL RECORD
Portsmouth – 18 goals in 71 starts and 25 sub appearances
Dagenham & Redbridge – 20 goals in 45 starts and 22 sub apps
Hemel Hempstead Town – 29 goals in 99 apps
Northwood – 39 goals in 112 apps