Nat Wedderburn out to prove a point after ‘frustrating’ ICT spell

Nat Wedderburns spell at Inverness last season did not go as well as he had hoped. Picture: SNS

Nat Wedderburns spell at Inverness last season did not go as well as he had hoped. Picture: SNS

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Dunfermline midfielder Nat Wedderburn has more than one reason to try to make a point against Inverness Caley Thistle this evening.

After opening the competition with 3-0 victories over both Arbroath and Fife rivals Cowdenbeath, the Pars will go top of Betfred Cup group C if they can earn at least a draw against their Premiership visitors tonight.

However, Wedderburn also has a personal reason to dream of success against Caley Thistle after spending last season with the Highlanders.

The 25-year-old looks back on the spell with mixed feelings but left at the end of the campaign disappointed by only making ten starts in his 18 appearances for the top-flight outfit.

In contrast, the former Stoke City trainee and England under-19 cap has been selected for both of Dunfermline’s competitive outings so far and is relishing the visit of his old club.

He said: “I was up there last year and they were frustrating times and a learning curve, but I did enjoy my time up there at times as well. You want to play as much as possible and when you’re not playing it’s not happy times. But I’m looking forward to the game and hopefully we can get the win.

“They are still a good team, a lot of the players I was there with last year are still there so it will be a difficult game.

“They have changed their manager now. Richie (Foran) has come in, he was a player and all the boys will respect him and I think they will work hard for him.

“It will be a tough game and they might be a bit more direct than they were probably last year, but the boys will be up for it.

“It is another step up in quality for us but we’re more than capable of stepping up another level. With the quality we’ve got I’m sure we can cause Inverness problems.”

Caley Thistle’s Jake Mulraney, as a young winger imbued with old-fashioned traits of trickery, likes the way the ball stays on the deck in Scotland as compared to the “hoof ball” of England’s League Two.

But as he adapts to life north of the border, the former Queen’s Park Rangers attacker, who spent part of last season loaned to Stevenage, is desperately hoping to avoid being kicked up into the heavens too often himself.

Dubliner Mulraney, while complimentary about what he has experienced so far in the Scottish game, has endured some rough treatment in friendlies and 75 minutes of Betfred Cup action.

The 20-year-old’s flicks and tricks in Saturday’s home debut against Dundee United again had him striking the deck with regularity as the Tannadice team’s defenders toiled to stifle his forays.

But the former Republic of Ireland under 19 international is willing to take the knocks in his stride and make the most of what he sees as a wonderful platform for his skills.

He said: “I’ve enjoyed it massively so far in Scotland. There has been a lot of good quality passing in matches and far less of the ball being put up in the air. The gaffer here wants to play football and it’s good to be part of.

“I have taken a bit of time to get used to the physical demands. I don’t think I’m as fit as the other boys yet, but that will come.

“I’ve certainly taken a few kicks in the games. The gaffer said to me before the first match in pre-season I was going to get it a lot – and he wasn’t wrong! I suppose you just have take it as a compliment – albeit a painful compliment. I’ve had it before in England, on loan at Stevenage and Dagenham and Redbridge, but not as bad as up here.

“Hopefully, the referees can offer a bit of protection. During the Dundee United game, I heard our captain Gary Warren say to the ref ‘protect him a little bit’, so maybe they will.

“It’s a huge platform for me coming to Scotland’s top league. (From)League Two in England, it is a real step up. The players are technically better
and more football-minded.

“Being able to go to places like Ibrox and Celtic Park is a big opportunity and that was a big part of what made my mind up to come.

“The biggest crowd I had played in front of before was about 10,000 at Luton. Even grounds like Hearts and Aberdeen are massive games to look forward to.”

Mulraney is a talent who excites Foran, who is eager to develop a more direct attacking style utiling both flanks.

Foran said: “Against Dundee United, Jake got two or three players booked. He’s got massive amounts of pace and we’ll work a little bit on his final ball.

“Jake’s had lumps kicked out of him in pre-season but he just gets on with it.

“He doesn’t square up to people – he gets the ball and goes again. He’s going to cause defenders problems this season.”

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