CALLUM Hawkins wants to continue developing on and off the pitch this season with Burton Albion, having played his first 45 minutes of pre-season at Mickleover Sports.
The young keeper is now a second-year professional, having established himself as third-choice keeper over the 2018/19 season behind Stephen Bywater and Brad Collins.
Hawkins was in goal for the first half in our friendly at the Don Amott Arena, in which a Brewers side comprised of young professionals and Academy scholars competed against John McGrath’s side.
And Hawkins feels pre-season, particularly in terms of performance, is going well for Nigel Clough’s side - and the 19-year-old admits it felt odd to be one of the senior players on Wednesday night.
“I think we’re doing well,” said Hawkins. “As a group we’ve been putting in some solid performances.
“We’ve not got the results we wanted but that’s how it goes in pre-season. We’ve developed well, got fitter and stronger, and we’ll be ready for the season in two weeks.
“It’s a change and I’m not used to (being a senior player) but it’s a good change. It makes you be a leader and you learn more from those games than sitting around and watching. It’s a great experience and it’s part and parcel of it.”
Being third-choice keeper meant Hawkins travelling with the first-team to all games both home and away and being part of the keepers’ warm-up routine with goalkeeping coach Martin Taylor.
For Hawkins, that has been a massive learning experience and not just in terms of his game.
“It was a big step-up just to men’s football, learning to deal with the physicality of the game rather than the technical and tactical side like in the Academy,” said Hawkins.
“I’m going to keep trying to develop like I have been doing, working with Martin and watching the games as well. That helped me last year so I’m hoping for the same again.
“Travelling with the team helps me with the other side of the game, how we travel, how to eat healthily when we’re away and coping with the late nights and being in early - the side of things people don’t see.”