Willie Donachie

By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter

After watching Haris Vuckic score his second goal in two days, Willie Donachie is hoping this is the season that the Slovenian starlet comes of age.

It seems like the gifted youngster has been around for a long time, having made his competitive debut against Huddersfield almost three years ago, but he's still just 19.

He netted in the first-team friendly at Hartlepool on Tuesday night before notching in the Reserves' 1-1 draw at Leeds the following afternoon, and that kind of form is sure to impress Alan Pardew with the new Barclays Premier League campaign less than two weeks away.

Vuckic's progress over the last couple of seasons has been hampered somewhat by untimely injuries, but Donachie believes this could be a breakthrough year for the man from Ljubljana - as long as he can stay clear of the treatment room.

"That's one thing, and just to get games; to stay fit and play games because that it the only way you develop, getting experience through playing games," the Magpies' Reserve Team Manager told nufc.co.uk.

"We can help him, hopefully, and give him advice but the only way any player learns is through experience."

In terms of senior appearances, Vuckic was the most experienced player in the second-string line-up which turned out at Leeds' Thorp Arch training ground, although Mehdi Abeid also started and Paul Dummett and Jak Alnwick have both represented the first-team this pre-season.

But the likes of 16-year-old Lubo Satka and Irish teenager Brandon Miele caught the eye of former Scotland international Donachie and Football Development Manager Peter Beardsley, who joined him in the dugout.

"Lubo was outstanding for a young kid playing against older people," said Donachie. "Brandon I thought did very well when he came on; he made some great passes and hit the post with a long shot.

"They all worked hard, and that's all you can ask. We keep saying to them if they're wholehearted and give everything they've got, that's all that matters.

"The young players showed great attitude and it was a great experience for them, playing in a very competitive game with strong challenges and a high tempo. And it's pre-season so it was very good for our fitness.

"Also, it's another run out for the more experienced players. It's pre-season and we're learning all the time, trying to perfect what we're after, and you need to be patient - which isn't my best asset - and keep working on things.

"The more games you get, for me that's the real way to get fit so the fitness is getting better and they're slowly understanding what we're after practically as well.

"They're all slowly taking things on but obviously the more fit you are, the better you technique is and the more your concentration is so that's an integral part of it.

"It's been a little bit disrupted because we started with a team and then some of the more experienced players become fringe players and they go out, then they come back, but once this team settles down hopefully we'll have a more settled squad that we can really develop well."