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Inverness Caledonian Thistle youngster Cameron Harper sees competition for places as a challenge to rise to

By Alasdair Fraser

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Young Cameron Harper believes ferocious competition for places at Caley Thistle can make him a better player.

The club academy graduate and Scotland under-21 squad member made his breakthrough last season, impressing in 22 starts and seven substitute appearances.

Since a disappointing League Cup group campaign this season, though, the 19-year-old hasn’t started a match with the team clicking superbly to lead the Championship title race.

Injury to Aaron Doran brought the promising youngster a full second half appearance in an unfamiliar attacking role in Saturday’s 0–0 draw at Dunfermline.

Cameron Harper holds off Dunfermline’s Aaron Comrie in last week’s draw. Picture: Andy Barr
Cameron Harper holds off Dunfermline’s Aaron Comrie in last week’s draw. Picture: Andy Barr

While frustrated at the lack of action, with Robbie Deas holding down, the left-back slot, Harper understands manager Billy Dodds’ thinking and is embracing the scenario as a challenge and learning experience.

He said: “I’m no different from any other player – I want to play every game.

“As a player, if you don’t want to be out there on a Saturday, to be honest, there’s something wrong with you.

“Personally, I’m viewing it as a good challenge for me. It is healthy competition and it just makes me want to work harder and all the more determined to become better.

“Meantime, I’ll always try my best to come on and help the team as much as I can. The great thing about our squad is that we’re all in it together and the lads on the sidelines know there’s not much any of us can say.

“As a team, we’ve started very well. We’re not conceding goals, so as long as we’re winning we’re all happy.

“Given results we can’t go to the manager and say much or feel too hard done by. It is frustrating, but I know I just have to bide my time.”

There is no doubting that Harper remains central to Dodds’ plans. Earlier this month, he accepted the opportunity to commit his future to Caley Thistle by signing a contract extension through to summer 2024.

An adaptability in his game may also bring fresh first team opportunities while Deas remains in command of the jersey.

Injury removed winger Aaron Doran from the fray in Fife at the weekend, with Harper replacing him in the attacking role.

Harper stressed: “It was my first significant time on the pitch in the league this season and I enjoyed it, to be fair. Coming on for Aaron, I played further forward and it is something the gaffer and I have spoken about – and something he believes I can do.

“Naturally I am a left-back, but I feel I can do a decent job at left wing. Learning different positions gives you a better perspective and helps you improve. All our focus, though, is on earning three points at home to Queen of the South this weekend and I’ll play wherever asked.”

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