AFTER spending 18 months away from competitive football, Oxford United’s newest signing may be short on match fitness, but there is one commodity he does not lack – self-belief.
Will Hoskins took all of five minutes to make an impact in a yellow shirt, coming off the bench to set up Danny Hylton’s equaliser at West Brom on Tuesday night.
It was exactly the sort of sharpness up front the side have lacked in previous games this season.
Hoskins’s unveiling on Monday marked the culmination of several weeks spent searching for an experienced goalscorer.
Many will be hoping it will prove to be the missing piece of the jigsaw which will see United’s attractive approach finally yield better results.
It is a burden of expectation which would intimidate some, but not Hoskins.
“I don’t think I should be in the game if I couldn’t handle it,” he said.
“It’s what I thrive on and I think any player does on that pressure.
“I just need games now.”
The midweek cameo at the Hawthorns marked a big moment for the striker, who had not played competitively since rupturing cruciate knee ligaments in February 2013.
Despite returning to fitness at the end of last season, Brighton released him in May.
With a CV which includes prolific spells with Rotherham and Bristol Rovers, plus experience gained in the Premier League and Championship, there was plenty of interest.
A trial at Barnsley came and went without any firm offers and while other League One clubs were in the running, none were prepared to take a leap of faith like United.
Hoskins immediately felt a connection when meeting head coach Michael Appleton and chief executive Mark Ashton last Friday, to such a degree that the deal was completed just over 24 hours later.
He said: “I had a lot of interest from the league above, but I’ve obviously not played in a while.
“There are probably a lot of clubs at the end of the season that are going to be knocking their heads against a wall, that’s the confidence I have.
“I understand there comes a risk factor and these people here made me feel really welcome, they’ve put their faith in me, so it felt only right I put their faith in them.”
While Hoskins is clearly not light on confidence, the former England under 20 international believes the attacking unit will share the load.
He said: “It works both ways; if they start getting on the scoresheet and I don’t, it takes the pressure off me and if I get goals it takes the pressure off them.
“If we both do it then perfect, but I can’t see none of us doing it. It’s the way forward.”
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