Ollie Palmer’s Football League career is officially up and running.
And Lee Bradbury has warned Pompey to pay close attention when the ex-Hawks striker goes head-to-head with them this weekend.
Palmer left Westleigh Park to join Mansfield at the start of the month for an undisclosed fee.
On Saturday, he came on as a substitute to score the winner against Wycombe for his maiden goal in the professional goal.
Hawks boss Bradbury was one of the first people the striker rang after achieving that feat in only his third appearance.
Palmer scored 40 goals in 83 matches during his two-season spell with the non-league club.
Now Pompey are in his sights as they seek to build on last week’s 3-0 victory over Morecambe.
And Bradbury believes they should be wary of the talented 21-year-old.
He said: ‘Ollie is a hard-working player and deserves his chance to get to play league football.
‘Over time – probably next season or the one after – he will go up again to League One or the Championship, I am sure of it.
‘He’s a natural finisher, in the right place at the right time and that’s something you cannot teach. It is a knack.
‘I noticed a big improvement in him as last season went on, with his mindset the biggest change.
‘Ollie became a lot more focused and channelled his energy in the right way when previously he would get a bit frustrated at times when he missed a chance and it affected him.
‘I tried to get that out of him and make him believe he can still score goals and to relax more.
‘In the end, we had quite a few clubs enquiring about him and wanting him on trial – Championship and League One teams were after him as well as League Two.
‘I think he had to leave us but there was no point sitting in a development squad for a year. He needs to play in the squad every week and that is why he saw Mansfield as the right move.
‘He just wanted to be a professional footballer and I am sure he will keep doing well.’
Palmer scored 25 times for the Hawks last season to top the Conference South goal charts.
Inevitably, Football League clubs were going to take notice, although it was a blow for the Hawks to lose him so late in pre-season.
He follows Wes Fogden (Bournemouth) and Mustafa Tiryaki (Tranmere) in leaving Westleigh Park to make the step up in recent times.
Yet Bradbury has remained in touch with his former striker.
He added: ‘Ollie rang me after that Wycombe game to tell me he had scored.
‘He also told me he had missed a one-on-one in the same game!
‘I keep in touch with him, we speak once or twice a week. We have a relationship and he knows he can trust me and values my opinions.’