HARIS Vuckic is keen to make up for lost time at Newcastle United after making a goalscoring comeback from injury.
The forward impressed in the club’s first pre-season friendly, the 4-2 win over Motherwell.
Vuckic scored one goal and set up another for striker Yoan Gouffran.
And the 20-year-old – who was sidelined for nine months after suffering a cruciate ligament injury in October last year – hopes to get another chance against Portuguese side Rio Ave in Vila do Conde this evening (6pm kick-off).
Vuckic has been beset by a series of injuries over the past three years.
However, he feels he’s stronger mentally and physically for all the frustrating months he has spent in the treatment room.
The Slovenia international admits it was tough facing up to another long spell out after suffering the knee injury in a reserve fixture at Villa Park.
“I was down, to be honest,” Vuckic said.
“It was really hard, but I had support from all my family and my friends, and the manager, staff and players at the club.
“They kept me going. It was a hard six or seven months, and then I had to wait during the holidays for pre-season to start. I had to wait nine months to start training.
“At the start it was very hard, but then I started working and doing a little bit in the gym. Step by step you start.
“You want to work more and more.
“Everything now is very good. I actually forget what’s happened.
“I’m just looking to the future and working hard.
“I knew what was coming because I had surgery on my right knee. It wasn’t bad. It wasn’t a big problem, it was just three months.
“It was the cruciate, so it was a little bit different.
“You have to stay strong mentally and physically. Nine months was really hard, but now it’s good.”
Vuckic, playing the No10 role, eased effortlessly back into action at Fir Park. Certainly, he didn’t look like a player who hadn’t kicked a ball in anger for the best part of a year.
“In the 45 minutes, he couldn’t have shown more quality than he did,” said Pardew after the game.
“He has got to produce the energy and power the Premier League demands. If he can do that, we are going to have a player on our hands.
“In the three years I have been at Newcastle, I’ve never really had the chance to play him. Haris has been so unlucky with injuries.”
Buoyed by his performance and Pardew’s comments, Vuckic is keen to build on his performance against Motherwell over the coming weeks.
“My aim is to be fit,” he said. “If I’m going to be fit, I know I will get a chance in training. Hopefully, the gaffer will give me a chance, and I will do my maximum.
“I’m looking forward to Portugal. I’m working hard, and hopefully I’ll get more chances.”