RR: So... Josh Hawkes. Is he any good?
Dan Patton: Josh is a player with clear ability, which was most evident in his first season with the club after scoring nine goals from midfield.
Mark Carroll: I rate Josh highly, he is a talented attack minded midfielder and should continue to improve.
Ronnie C: Josh Hawkes has potential. He is still only 21 so still has time on his side but the clock is ticking. He had this potential at 17 and really should’ve realised it by now, but for reasons unknown so far he hasn’t.
My guess is a mixture of being poorly managed at Hartlepool - in particularly by Harrison, Bates and Hignett - and maybe a bit of a poor attitude on Josh’s part. Dave Jones gave him his chance and Dave Challinor also liked the look of him initially, so no blame can really be attached to them, but after a shocking 4-1 mauling at Harrogate last Boxing Day I think Josh was singled out by Challinor as one of the main culprits, and was sub after that until starting again versus Sutton the last game before the lockdown.
Josh needed to kick on last season and it didnt really happen for him - the season ending early didnt help, but I doubt he would’ve discovered the form required regardless, his body language last season was all wrong in my opinion.
He has been loaned out to Dunston and Marske during his time with us - whilst I would’ve liked him to have started more games, his whole Pools career has been a procession of stop-start. He starts a game one week, sub the next, disappears for a couple of weeks - so sending him out on loan was probably no bad thing... but, Dunston and Marske were beneath his skill set - he should’ve been loaned out to clubs higher up the pyramid.
RR: What kind of midfielder is he?
DP: His best position is an attacking midfield role, however he can also play in a wide attacking role if needed. He is a player that won’t shy away from shooting, no matter the distance, and brings a real energy into the midfield.
RC: His role in the team has usually been attacking midfield, or the 10 role just off the front two. Personally I think he would make a good right midfielder.
MC: As I said previously he’s attack minded, always looks to get on the ball to make things happen, and chips in with goals too.
RR: I noticed he was given his first team debut by Dave Jones in the Football League. What were the initial impressions of the Pools fans when Hawkes appeared on the scene?
DP: Like every academy graduate, the Pools fans were excited to see how he adapted to the expectations of the senior game. He was still very raw when he first came on the scene, but it was clear that there was ability there.
MC: At the time we were desperate for some fresh faces, be it new players or giving youth a chance, and he had received good reviews for the reserves, so it was good to see a player come in with no pressure and enjoy his football.
RC: My initial impression was that Hawkes was an exciting prospect, but poor management in my view soon ruined those prospects.
In relation to not being allowed a run in the team - he’d have one bad game and he was back on the bench, which can affect confidence or annoy a player. This can transfer on to the pitch, where Josh has seemed disintered over the last year or so.
All this split fans opinion of him down the middle - which has generally always been 50/50, though in the last year probably now two thirds of fans dont rate him.
Like I say, last season was his last chance really.
RR: What would you say his greatest attributes as a player are?
DP: He’s generally good on the ball and has an eye for a pass - in fact, he can pick a pass out brilliantly!
MC: I’d say his willingness to always want the ball and look to play forwards and create.
RC: Josh has a good physique and is quick in short bursts. He also possesses a good shot, and is a decent penalty taker. His ability to shoot from distance is an asset, unlike most modern footballers who will only shoot when they are 100% certain they have a chance to score. Josh will get a shot off as soon as he can see the goal.
Occasionally he has played out wide on the left so is quite versatile really. He can play across midfield and can play up front, which is where he played for our youth team.
I think his age was a factor in him not starting many games up front for us.
One thing I can’t remember him doing so much is winning balls in the air - maybe another reason he rarely played in a front two.
RR: Josh has joined Sunderland initially as part of our U23s side. Considering there are only two leagues between us, and the fact he’s a first teamer at Pools, are you surprised that he’s chosen to move to Wearside?
MC: No - I see it as the next stage of his development, and he will believe he can get into the first team picture this season.
DP: I wasn’t really surprised to see Josh move to Sunderland, even though there was reported interest from other clubs, as it gives him the opportunity to get into the U23 side and potentially work his way into the first team.
RC: He wasnt a first teamer at Pools in terms of starting eleven - last season was seen as his last chance to finally break into the team permanently, he never, so he was always going to be released once the season was over.
RR: Do you think he’s got the potential to play at League One level and above?
DP: He definitely has the potential to play at League One level or above, with the right coaching. He has all the qualities to make it in the Football League, despite his lack of game time at Pools as of late.
MC: I certainly believe he can hold his own in League One, and the potential is there to improve further.
RC: Managed well I actually think he could play in League One - a club like Accy Stanley would be ideal for him perhaps. He seems to have gone backwards over last 18 months or so, but with good management he could be brought up to League One level.
Failing that you could sell him to a League Two club further down the line. After bedding down, a loan move to a League Two club would be beneficial. I think League One may be a step too far, but certainly has potential, and if managed well... who knows.
RR: What would you say to any Sunderland fans who aren’t quite sure what to make of this particular piece of business?
DP: I think for any Sunderland fans that are sceptical about this signing, I’d say this: he has great potential for the future, having tallied up a number of appearances for Hartlepool’s first team at such a young age. So... give him time!
MC: He a player who will give everything to impress and make a good impression at Sunderland. Give a local lad a chance as he will know just what potential Sunderland have, and you might be in for a pleasant surprise.
RC: I do get the impression he might be a player who needs an arm around him from time to time and may be a bit immature. Being at a big club like SAFC can only improve him in this sense. There is no harm in giving Josh a try, it’s no worse than bringing in some young player from France - that seems to have been the way with youth/reserve teams in recent years. If managed well and sent out on loan to a good club, this lad could surprise. A lot will depend on how much Josh wants it.