Osman grabs his big chance

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The Independent Online

Leon Osman accepts that he would hardly have got a look-in at Everton this season had the Merseysiders not had to shed a glut of players for financial reasons. But the tough little midfielder has been in the side from the start of the campaign and is deter-mined to realise his dream of a top-flight career.

Leon Osman accepts that he would hardly have got a look-in at Everton this season had the Merseysiders not had to shed a glut of players for financial reasons. But the tough little midfielder has been in the side from the start of the campaign and is deter-mined to realise his dream of a top-flight career.

Osman will be in the line-up to face Middlesbrough at Goodison today and hopes Everton can add to their good early form. Home-grown talent Osman is already a big favourite with the Everton fans for his commitment and drive, and has impressed the club's manager, David Moyes.

Osman went out on loan last season to Derby, who wanted to sign him permanently, but Moyes refused and has not regretted his decision. Osman said: "I was No 31 last season and right on the fringes of the squad. Now I've managed to push myself up to 21, so that shows progress.

"Maybe if the squad had not been decimated I would still have been down at 31, but things happen so quickly in football. One minute you are struggling to get into the reserves, and the next you are scoring in the Premiership.

"I suppose it was something of an ill wind that has helped me get into the side, but I am determined to make the most of my opportunity."

Osman believes Everton can build on their best top-division start since 1978. "We have run into good form since the opening day of the season and we are all pushing to continue it," he said. "Last weekend was a terrific result at Manchester City. People from outside judged us from how we finished last season, but we have always had the belief we were better than that."

Middlesbrough certainly have the respect of Osman and his manager. Moyes said: "I watched them in their Uefa Cup game against Banik Ostrava and they did very well. They are very experienced. They have two centre-forwards [Viduka and Hasselbaink] who will probably get 30 goals between them.

"They have Parlour and Boateng in the middle, who have something like 600 games between them, and Gareth Southgate at the back."

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