Darius Osei sale helps Stalybridge get set for new campaign

Darius Osei
manager Liam Watson has backed striker Darius Osei to make an instant impact at OLDHAM ATHLETIC.

Latics paid an undisclosed fee to sign the 21-year-old from Celtic last week, with Osei joining the League One club on a one-year deal.

Manager Steve Robinson described the youngster as “one for the future” before using him as a late substitute in Latics’ final friendly at Grimsby last Saturday. Despite making 14 signings, Robinson is still looking to bring people in having confirmed a bid for Kilmarnock striker Josh Magennis, but Osei’s former boss reckons Oldham need look no more.

“He’s a great kid and he deserves it,” Watson told the Beyond the Big Two. “I haven’t got a doubt in my mind that he’ll go to Oldham and do really well. I think he’ll be a good signing for them.

“He’s got a opportunity with the fact he’s got great raw talent, pace and power, so he’s got all the attributes to be a really good player. I think he’ll make an impact there. It’ll take him time to bed into being full-time but I wouldn’t be surprised if he was there or thereabouts in the next few weeks, knocking on the door or getting on the bench.”

Osei came through Celtic’s youth ranks and made two substitute appearances during the 2014/15 season before Watson took charge last summer. After scoring twice in six games off the bench, he hit four on his first start – against Abbey Hey in the Manchester Premier Cup in October.

Barnsley then took him on loan in January and although Osei returned in April, his goal in Celtic’s 4-1 friendly win over Accrington convinced Oldham to make their move.

“He was in the Academy when I got there,” Watson added. “He came on and scored in a 7-1 win against Hyde but then was never involved again until we pushed him into the first team last season.

“He was going to go to Barnsley but there was an issue with his medical so they ended up taking him on loan. It was probably a tough little time for him, not knowing what was happening.

“But he came back for pre-season and he’d obviously trained hard over the summer. He’s in great nick and then scored a great goal against Accrington in front of Oldham, so it was inevitable. I always thought that if he scored a few goals early doors (this season), then he’d have been gone anyway.”

Stalybridge sold centre-half Jack Higgins to York City early in the summer, as well as Bohan Dixon to AFC Fylde to March, and its essential for Stalybridge to keep making money from developing players to remain competitive in the National League North.

The Osei deal allowed Celtic to make another five signings this week, making it 12 for the summer, including the return of centre-half Kristian Platt, so Watson is now relishing Saturday’s trip to Boston United for the big kick-off.

“We signed Jack Higgins for nothing from Ashton United and sold him for a really good fee,” said Watson. “Jack totally deserved the opportunity. He’s 24 so is at a good age. He’s just finished his degree but probably always wanted to give it a go full-time.

“I’m one of them that never stands in a kid’s way. If something bigger and better comes along then we try to make it happen for them. We also sold Bohan Dixon so for a club the size of Stalybridge to sell three players in a six-month period is some going.

“We’ve had to cut the wage bill back a bit and we’ve tried to recruit as well as we can within it, which we have done. I’m really pleased with the options we have and the signings we’ve made. I’m not saying they’re all going to work out but they will all be given a chance.”

Stalybridge Celtic squad for 2016/17
Goalkeeper: Tony McMillan.
Defenders: Danny Wisdom, John Shaw, Peter Wylie, Kristian Platt, Nick Ryan, Aaron Walters.
Midfielders: Danny Burns, Aaron Chalmers, Aidan Chippendale, Adam Farrell, Matty Hughes, Henoc Mukendi, Jimmy Ball, Danny Pilkington, Callum Bagshaw, Liam Hynes.
Strikers: Steve Tames, Andy Owens, Kurt Sherlock, Paul Foy, Kevin Lettany.