Gillingham striker Oli Hawkins could be set to return this weekend following a recent battle with plantar fasciitis, according to Gills’ manager Neil Harris, with quotes from Kent Online.
The striker has been out of action since the start of the season, after dealing with a particular injury in his foot. Finishing the season strong with Gills last year, a cut-short pre-season has taken Hawkins out of recent action, with a return potentially possible for Gillingham’s upcoming fixture against Morecambe.
Who Is Oli Hawkins?
Beginning his career in the depths of non-league football, Hawkins’s break came at the age of 23 when he signed for at the time League Two club Dagenham & Redbridge. Suffering immediate relegation with the Daggers, the 31-year-old hit back with 28 goal contributions in his return to non-league, securing him a move to Portsmouth.
Following three seasons with Pompey, where he picked up 18 goals in 96 appearances, Hawkins bounced around with Ipswich Town and Mansfield Town before joining the Gills in last season’s January transfer window.
A Boost For Goals
Despite sitting atop the League Two table, goals have been hard to come by for Gillingham in their start to the season. With five victories in their opening seven games, the Gills have only scored five goals over that span, with every victory being a 1-0 result.
The return of 6’6 striker should help in that front, however, with the goal scorer lacking match sharpness, relying on him immediately may not be sustainable.
What’s Been Said:
Ahead of their league fixture clash with Morecambe, Harris gave an update on Hawkins’ condition and the possibility of the striker making his season debut.
“Oli is a big personality in the group, a big personality in the changing room and I have never known a player get so much stick in the changing room, which brings banter and camaraderie, it is brilliant and we really miss him.
“He has been on the training pitch for three weeks, but we’ve never been able to get him up to a level to get rid of the pain in his heel, but he trained for 40 minutes last Thursday, didn’t train Friday but then trained for 45 minutes with Keith Millen on Saturday morning.
“He got through, it looks like pain-free, which means we can step him up.
“Will he be ready (for Saturday)? Possibly, to have that option, for when teams camp in against us, just to have that option to hit him would be great, even if it’s for the last 15-20 minutes of a game.”
While Gillingham aren’t in no desperate need for player’s returns after their successful start to the season, I don’t think its very sustainable for them to score five goals in their first seven games.
Hawkins ability to help in all areas of the final third should benefit the team, however, by diving into Harris’ comments, the striker is yet to complete a full first-team training session since the injury. While progress has been made, it still may take some time before the big man in starting games regular again.