Haris Vuckic

By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter

It was his goal which put Newcastle into the group stages of the Europa League and now Haris Vuckic is hoping for another opportunity to impress in Thursday night's opening game against Maritimo.

The Slovenian replaced injury victim Ryan Taylor in the fourth qualifying round second leg tie against Atromitos and scored the only goal of the night to give Alan Pardew's side a 2-1 victory on aggregate.

And, having flown out to Funchal with his team-mates ahead of their first Group D match of the competition proper, the 20-year-old is vying for a starting berth at the Estadio do Barreiros.

"I'm looking forward to the match," he told nufc.co.uk after training at the sun-drenched stadium on Wednesday evening.

"Hopefully I'll get a chance and I can't wait for the game. It's going to be hard because the conditions are hot but we have a lot of energy in our team so we're hoping to score as quickly as possible to put us in a good position for a positive result.

"The heat is a bit hard but then you get used to it. I know it might be hard for us because we normally train in 15 degrees and then we come under the sun but you just have to go through it.

"That's the Europa League and it's an experience, so I think that's positive because in this game you just become stronger."

Vuckic still has happy memories of his starring role in United's progression, with his crucial strike coming on what was his European debut.

"We played well against Atromitos and we created a lot of chances," he recalled.

"The second game was good for me. I scored a goal and I could have scored a couple more.

"But it was my first goal, which made me very happy and I'm looking forward to Thursday now. I'm here to score goals and hopefully I will."

Following that match, Vuckic picked up a knock after reporting for international duty and sat out of his nation's World Cup qualifiers against Switzerland and Norway.

But he insisted: "I'm here now, I've trained hard and if I get a chance hopefully I will take it. I feel fit so everything is good."

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