All George Oakley has wanted to sample since joining Caley Thistle is the Highland derby.
Oakley is back involved after missing the last six weeks with a hamstring injury and is determined to make up for lost time by proving his worth against Inverness’ local rivals Ross County.
The Caley Jags come into the game seven points adrift of County but unbeaten in 22 games, although goalscoring has been a problem for John Robertson’s side.
Oakley is convinced he can help remedy that problem now he is fit again and hopes to finally sample the biggest game in Highland football.
He said: “It’s a big game for everyone up here and since everyone has spoken about it, it’s all I’ve really wanted to play in. I want to feel the atmosphere and passion and it’s what I’ve been looking forward to the most.
“I’m a player who loves to make the fans enjoy themselves in games. I want to give 100 per cent, throw myself about and be that horrible striker for other teams to deal with. I enjoy it and it gives something back to the crowd. They have helped me through everything.
“You get that fire in the belly when you get back out there. Coming back from injury, you want to prove your worth and show what people have been missing. There’s no better game to do it in than the derby.”
Oakley’s period out of the team has coincided with a dry spell in front of goal, with four goals in their last six games that have all finished as draws. The former AFC Wimbledon striker does not like watching games at the best of times but the urge to get back on the pitch has been intensified by Caley Thistle’s struggle to find the net.
He added: “As a striker, all you want to do is score goals. When you sit back and watch the team struggling in the final third to score goals, you think to yourself ‘if I was out there, could I have made a difference?’”
“Watching from the stands is hard for any footballer but especially a striker. You believe in yourself in getting the goals that the team needs. Hopefully I can get back in and get the goals we need.”
Inverness’ defensive record is the second-best in the division, behind County, and avoiding defeat today would set a new club record of 23 games unbeaten. Oakley feels all the pieces are in place for a promotion push in the Highland capital – apart from goals.
Oakley said: “We have been so good at the back in not conceding goals. We know if we get that first goal, we’re not going to concede. It’s the last part of the puzzle to put in place, so we can start climbing the table again. We know we should be in the play-offs at least, if not getting promoted. That’s how I see it.”