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One to Watch: Haris Vuckic

When an individual is coveted by the likes of Real Madrid, AC Milan and Manchester United, among others, you know the player in question is a bit special. When he is just 17, yet to make a Premier League appearance, and the same elite clubs are chasing his tail, you begin to wonder just how good his kid could be.

Meet Haris Vuckic. Of Slovenian descent, he was even considered for his national team squad for the World Cup despite having featured in only a handful of games for the senior side last season in the Championship and League Cup. A regular with the reserves since Dennis Wise signed him in early 2009 in what was the rarest of masterstrokes by the ex-Director of Football, Vuckic was the star of the Newcastle team which reached the FA Youth Cup semi-final last season. A serious injury incurred late last year prevented him from making a greater mark on Hughton’s champions.

Capable of playing as a striker, an advanced midfielder or even out on the wing, the youngster is yet to grow into a position he can call his own. His versatility, however, could prove invaluable in forcing his way into Chris Hughton’s plans this season. The Newcastle boss has the unenviable task of trying to survive with a threadbare squad and limited funds for strengthening, and the emergence of a player who can operate in a range of positions can only benefit both parties. Hughton has already indicated that Vuckic will be given plenty of first team outings, possibly in a bid to hold on to the club’s most promising young player, and with Newcastle lacking in the creative department the Slovenian could be called upon sooner rather than later.

He has already used pre-season as the platform in which to showcase his unquestionable talent. Against Carlisle, Vuckic came on at half time with the game goalless and was a key figure in an eventual 3-0 victory for Newcastle. It was in this game when he registered his first goal. Receiving the ball with his back to goal, the midfielder swivelled as the ball approached before executing a perfect finish in one swift movement.

At first glance, his physique could have him earmarked as a target man. Standing over six foot tall with broad shoulders and a powerful left hook, you could be forgiven for placing him into the ‘old-fashioned centre forward’ cliche. No, this lad has everything. An intelligent football brain, an abundance of skill, great vision and a turn of pace, whilst not electrifying, means he can cut the mustard with the country’s best in the middle of the park or in the hole behind the front line.

With Newcastle’s injury record suggesting that the youngsters are likely to be called upon at some point, don’t be surprised to see Haris Vuckic getting his chance early on, especially if things aren’t going to plan for the Magpies. He is the type of player they haven’t had on their books in a long time and has everything in his locker to become a darling of the Toon Army. And should he begin to light up the Premiership, even with the smallest of embers, don’t be surprised to see the big boys knocking on the door again.

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