City starlet Osborne eager to keep his place

Edinburgh City striker Mark Osborne got the winner against Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale last weekend

Edinburgh City striker Mark Osborne got the winner against Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale last weekend

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Competition for the striking berths at Edinburgh City is fierce, but young forward Mark Osborne is determined to keep his starting place despite being the youngest of his table- topping team’s attackers.

He did his chances no harm last weekend when he came in for the suspended Ross Allum and scored in the 1-0 South Challenge Cup win at East of Scotland side Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale.

Osborne hopes it will be enough for manager Gary Jardine to keep him in his starting 11 when City bid to protect their five-point advantage at the top of the table in tomorrow’s home game against Gala Fairydean Rovers.

“Ross will be back tomorrow, but hopefully I can get up beside him,” he said. “I’ll be trying to get another goal at the weekend in what is a massive game for us.”

As well as Osborne and Allum, City can also call upon Ryan Wilson and Ortega Deniran to play up front, and such competition has prompted the teenager to up his game.

“It’s forced me to keep my standards high, but it’s good. There’s another three good strikers at the club, and whoever plays will give 100 per cent. Even if I’m on the bench and get a chance to come on, I’ll go on and give the same and try and win every game possible.”

Osborne was promoted from City’s under-20 squad last season and admitted that having more experienced strikers in the squad has helped bring him on since making the step up.

“The other forwards have definitely had a positive influence,” he said. “Watching them in training, they’re just consistently good – so much different from last year. You can’t be off the ball at all – you’ve got to be concentrating 24/7. It’s a much better standard but I’ve been enjoying it more.”

Deniran arrived at City earlier in the season with something of a European pedigree, having had spells with both Slavia and Levski Sofia in Bulgaria. He has struggled for full fitness thus far, but Osborne believes there’s more to come from the one-time Hearts trialist.

“I’ve heard Ortega played to a decent level abroad and I’ve seen a few videos of him,” said Osborne. “He’s not had much game time so far because he’s been injured but when he gets a chance I’m sure he’ll take it – he’s looked the part in training anyway.”

Gala will make it a hat-trick of visits to the Capital in three weeks after a 3-0 loss at Spartans and last Saturday’s dramatic late comeback against Edinburgh University.

The corresponding game at Netherdale produced nine goals, with the league leaders winning 6-3, but Osborne hopes they won’t need another late goal rush to see off the Borders club.

He added: “We left it a bit late last time. The last half an hour Ross Allum bagged a hat-trick so we know it’ll be tough. They’ll be a good, strong, physical team so if we win this one we’re looking good.

“We’re in a strong position right now – five points clear with a game in hand – but teams are starting to up their game against us after we beat them previously. Spartans are on a good unbeaten run so they’ll believe they can nick the title. We’ve got Spartans in the second last game of the season, but there’s a long way to go yet.”