RR: Tranmere have had a decent start to the season, I see... happy so far, or are you expecting to challenge for top spot?
Paul Harper: I’m very pleased with the season so far. We need to score more goals but signs in recent games suggest that is turning in the right direction, especially with Josh Hawkes’ contribution.
RR: Sunderland’s squad was pretty low on numbers right throughout pre-season and August, meaning Hawkes got a chance to get involved with the first team - were you surprised at all that he was allowed to move to Tranmere?
Paul Harper: I guess so. I’ve heard good things about him from Sunderland fans so it’s always a bit of a surprise to see clubs let good players go. We’re happy he’s here though!
RR: Have you been happy with how he’s done so far?
Paul Harper: Yes. He’s offering us good balance. He can go either way, and he doesn’t appear to have a preferred foot which makes defending against him difficult. He enjoys running at defenders which is something the Tranmere fans enjoy seeing, and he’s done well. He scored a good goal against Colchester and seems to have settled in nicely.
RR: Where has he been playing?
Paul Harper: Left side of a front three, cutting inside to allow an overlapping full back, but also sticking out wide to whip in good deliveries from wide positions.
As I said previously, he has that ability to go either way, so defenders seem to be unsure of how to play against him.
RR: I notice he scored against Colchester recently - talk us through the goal. Some of the photos of the team celebrating are great!
Paul Harper: He got at his man, cut inside and had a shot from 20 yards which, in fairness, took a wicked deflection to loop over the goalkeeper! But his performance deserved that goal. His celebration showed that he’s settled in and gets on well with everyone here.
RR: How integral do you think he can become to Tranmere’s plans this season?
Paul Harper: I think with how we’re playing, he’s an important figure because he gives us that balance down the left. If he’s not involved, we don’t have anyone who can naturally play that role. We have good attacking options and hopefully, Josh will continue to help create chances and score goals as that is an area which still needs improvement.
RR: Sunderland have ambitions to play in the Championship next season. For Josh to have a real chance here, he needs to have a real stormer of a season. Reckon he’s capable?
Paul Harper: He’s definitely got potential. With a run of games, as he’s getting here, he is getting better and better. He’s an exciting player who works hard for the team so I think he’d be a useful member of your squad.
RR: Have you seen enough of him yet to say you’d like him to stay longer term?
Paul Harper: I’d like to see a bit more, but from what we’ve seen so far, we’d certainly like him to stay. He’s the type of player Tranmere fans love. Someone who attacks his man, runs with the ball at his feet and has that quality to create and score goals. Hopefully he’ll continue to get better and have a good campaign with us, and then who knows?