Not one to evoke painful memories but, for me, this man changed the game at Wembley back in March.
Last time we pinpointed Portsmouth’s three to watch, Cardiff loanee Omar Bogle was banging in the goals and looked the main threat, but it was actually when Bogle went off at Wembley and was replaced by the imposing Hawkins that Portsmouth took control of the game - and thus, Kenny Jackett has kept faith with Hawkins pretty much ever since.
Although the big striker hasn’t scored since being restored to the team, it’s no coincidence that since his re-introduction to the starting line has seen Pompey score nine goals in just three games. His work rate and ability to cause havoc for opposition defenders means Jack Ross should, hopefully, continue with the defence pairing of Alim Ozturk and Jimmy Dunne.
Another man who changed the game at Wembley was Portsmouth stalwart Gareth Evans.
The former Crewe Alexandra product caused poor Luke O’Nien a number of issues on his right-hand side and set up the all important equalizer for Nathan Thompson. Much like Hawkins, he has kept his place in the side since he helped turned the game at Wembley.
He’s already got ten goals from midfield this term and is right up there as one of the most exciting and consistent players in the league - he’ll no doubt look to expose the inexperience of our makeshift right-back.
This one could be a key battle.
Fast, nimble, and tricky - Jamal Lowe has already caused Sunderland’s problems this season. We struggled to deal with his directness during our 3-1 defeat at Fratton Park back in December and at Wembley he did exactly the same, notching the all-important extra-time goal for the South Coast club.
He came up against Reece James in previous clashes, so facing Bryan Oviedo will be significantly sterner test for Kenny Jackett’s top scorer, and perhaps his toughest yet.
The importance of stopping Lowe is absolutely crucial. Whilst I am all for focusing on your own teams strengths than your oppositions, but we must keep close tabs on him or we could pay the price.