TEENAGE hot-shot Jason Oswell hopes to make an instant impact on Scotland’s top flight by breaking into Caley Thistle’s first team.
The youngster — who netted an impressive 19 goals in 20 games during a six-month loan spell at Rhyl last season — knows it will be tough with the likes of Andrew Shinnie, Billy Mckay and Shane Sutherland all eager to fill the goal-scoring boots of departed top scoring duo Jonny Hayes and Gregory Tade.
But the former Manchester City youngster, who was frozen out during Crewe’s promotion-winning campaign last term, is keen to make his mark on the Scottish Premier League.
“This team is young and I see it as a great opportunity,” said the 19-year-old.
“My initial target is to get into the first team which means I must work hard in pre-season and show what I can do and hopefully I’ll be on the pitch for the opening game against St Mirren. After that I can set different targets.
“I have heard the SPL is more physical than technical, which is beneficial for me.
“Manchester City influenced me to get at people and tackle hard, whereas at Crewe they wanted us to pass more and not fly in as much so hopefully I will be able to combine the two into a good end product.
“I would consider myself good in the air but my goals are not all pretty. They normally come in the six-yard box as tap-ins but they all add up.
“I used to be a target man who linked play up and was unselfish, but in the last couple of years I have added the goal scoring to my game as well.”
Shinnie, McKay, Sutherland and Oswell are likely to be vying for their chance to impress manager Terry Butcher in their opening pre-season friendly at Highland League side Buckie Thistle tomorrow.
The game may come too early for midfielder Ross Draper, who is set to become the fifth summer signing at Inverness. A one-year deal has been offered to the 23-year-old, who played for English Conference side Macclesfield Town last season.
“He hasn’t signed yet,” Butcher said yesterday. “We are just waiting for the football authorities to give it the okay.”
Butcher is keen to add further to his squad but may given recent recruits David Raven, Gary Warren and Antonio Reguero a chance tomorrow alongside a mix of established first team stars such as club captain Richie Foran and some younger players like Martin Laing, who was given a professional contract by the club last month.
Oswell is pleased to be given an opportunity after limited chances at Crewe led to a trial game at Tulloch Caledonian Stadium where he impressed enough to win a one-year deal.
“In my last two months at Crewe I felt things weren’t going too well, even though I felt my personal performance which was good hadn’t changed, so I asked the manager how he felt things were going and he told me that if I wanted to go to any trial games I should feel free — and that sounded like it was bad news,” Oswell explained.
“So I took that offer up and came here and did really well and this is definitely a step up for my career.”
Spanish goalkeeper Reguero was also involved in the trial game — trying to stop Oswell from scoring.
“He was the first person I met and we actually stayed at the same bed and breakfast,” the striker recalled.
“I thought if there was one player from the game that I’d like to get a chance here with me, it’d be him, even though he was on the opposition team and I did score past him!”