Young forward hoping to make an impression in first year
18-year-old striker Ollie Watkins, who will go into his first season as a professional footballer in the 2014/15 season, is hoping to demonstrate what he can bring to the Exeter City team this season.
The teenage forward netted 30 goals for the under-18 team last season – including a hat-trick in the title-winning game against Newport County AFC – and he is hoping to put himself into Paul Tisdale’s thinking this season.
He also feels that the example of midfielder Matt Grimes, who played 37 games in his first season and was voted Player of the Year, provides inspiration to him and his fellow graduates. Grimes was captain of the under-18 side when Watkins was in the first year of his scholarship.
“I’ve got to work hard – I’ve got to try to prove myself to the manager and try to get a spot for the season,” said Watkins.
“It’s good to know that Tis believes in us and is giving us a chance. When Matt [Jay] made his debut earlier on in the season I was really happy for him, and I want to prove what I can do.
“[Matt] Grimes has had a great season and he’s a great player – I guess if he can do it, someone else can. It gives you some hope to push on into the season.
“I want to try and be on the manager’s mind every week about starting and making the bench, and to prove to him that even if I’m not starting that I can make an impact if I come on the pitch.
“I’ll get at players and hopefully on a good day I’ll create a lot of chances and maybe score some goals.”
Paul Tisdale handed Watkins his debut on the final game of the season away at Hartlepool – Watkins had previously been drafted into the matchday squad to face Morecambe in January, only for a downpour and match postponement to delay his chance to get a debut.
A smaller squad this season might mean more playing opportunities for the forward, but he isn’t resting on his laurels. Conversely, he is keen to take the chances he is given when they arise.
“Having a small squad means you’ll get more opportunities, but then you’ve got to show what you can do,” he explained.
“If you don’t make the most of it, then there will be other players brought into your position – so you’ve got to take your chance.”
Click here to watch the full interview with Ollie on Grecian Player, where he talks about his ambitions for the forthcoming season, a pre-season friendly against his old manager and getting back to training.