Confidence is a big part of a footballer’s armoury.
And it is flowing freely through the veins of Lewis Hawkins following the return of Craig Hignett to Hartlepool United.
It was great that he had the trust in me to put me on at half-time in that situation and try to change the gameLEWIS HAWKINS
Not that the midfielder had any particular axe to grind with Ronnie Moore.
The previous boss brought Hawkins back from a fruitful loan spell at Spennymoor and the 22-year-old responded with a man-of-the-match display against Derby in the FA Cup when Pools came close to shocking the Championship promotion-chasers in a third round thriller.
But Hawkins has really come to life under Hignett who brought the Middlesbrough-born player off the bench and onto the middle of the park after a first-half horror show against Notts County.
He responded with a brilliant second-half display against the Magpies and followed that up at Luton last week.
“The gaffer brought me on at half-time of the Notts County game,” he told SportMail. “He told me to try to get on the ball and dictate things.
“With me having been out of the team I went on to try to show him what I can do.
“It was great that he had the trust in me to put me on at half-time in that situation and try to change the game.
“It’s nice that he has the belief in me and that makes me feel good as a player.”
Last Saturday at Kenilworth Road, the player who has come through the ranks at Victoria Park, was joined by Nicky Featherstone and Brad Walker in a new-look midfield triumvirate.
It worked very successfully with Featherstone playing the holding role, allowing Hawkins and Walker the freedom to push on.
“I’ve been a centre midfielder since I was a young lad,” he said.
“Obviously I don’t mind being out wide but I don’t really have the pace wingers have.
“I don’t really mind where I play, I just want to be in the team, but I’ll look to try to keep my place in the middle.
“I think we worked well as a three against Luton – we kept our shape well, interchanged well and always tried to get on the ball.
“We’d worked in training on on our shape, moving as a team, sideways as well as up and down, to make ourselves hard to break down and I think it worked well on the day.”
That solidity will be pivotal to the hopes of Pools tomorrow.
Hignett’s side will have, to say the least, their work cut out against Northampton Town.
The Cobblers are not just the league leaders, they are as good as champions already – even with a third of the season still to go.
Northampton are 12 points clear at the top of the division and 18 above the club in the first play-off position. Chris Wilder’s team have won their last 10 League Two matches.
“They are not a bad side,” smiled Hawkins. “But everyone’s run has got to come to an end sometime.”
While Hawkins is not short of confidence there is one thing he is lacking – a goal.
He does know where the goal is – this reporter saw him rattle one in during pre-season when Pools won at Harrogate Railway.
Hawkins had one nicked off his head when Jake Gray scored his spectacular goal in that FA Cup tie against Derby from a Michael Woods run and cross.
Hawkins had a shot at goal charged down last week at Kenilworth Road, having composed himself nicely at the end of a promising Pools move, even if the opportunity came on his ‘wrong’ foot.
“It came on my left foot which isn’t my strongest,” he said.
“I got my shot off it did not have much power and unfortunately it was blocked.
“I haven’t scored a professional goal yet but the role I am playing now should allow me to get forward and get on the scoresheet.”