Nigel Clough says this is the season for Marcus Harness to “make it big”.
The Burton Albion forward enjoyed a breakthrough campaign in 2018-19, half-a-decade after his debut for the club as a 17-year-old.
He scored six goals and registered seven assists as he became a regular part of Burton’s fluid attacking trio, alongside Liam Boyce and Lucas Akins, during the final few months of the season.
Harness has carried that form into pre-season – and he scored a stunning last-gasp winner in Tuesday’s friendly against Sheffield United.
Albion are braced for potential interest in the 23-year-old, with Clough acknowledging how he can catch the eye in what could be an exciting year for the academy graduate.
“On the back of the six months he had in the team, I think more than anybody he will be looking forward to this season to really kick on,” said the Burton boss.
“When you’re 15, 16 years old and you get close to the first team, and then things don’t happen for a few seasons, there comes a point where you say ‘right…’
“This is it for Marcus this season, to try to make it big.
“He scored a hat-trick away from home (against Rochdale), that catches people’s eye straightaway, anyone who scores hat-tricks on the road.
“Then his general performances, whether it’s out wide or up the middle, he is another player who can make things happen.”
By the end of the win over Sheffield United, Harness was joined in the Albion forward line by David Templeton, who made his first appearance since suffering a knee injury in March.
The former Rangers winger came close to providing a close-range header for Boyce with one of his first touches – and Clough is hopeful of more edge-of-the-seat moments from Templeton in 2019-20.
“He will make an impact – it’s whether he starts and makes an impact or comes on and makes an impact,” he added.
“But that’s exactly what he needs to do, what he did on Tuesday. The first time he came on, he ran straight at the guy and put a cross in which we should score from – Liam Boyce and Lucas are entitled to be in there on the end of that.
“That’s exactly what he can do.
“Every time he got it, you feel as if something is going to happen.
“We talked about him a year ago when we signed him, that’s the sort of player we needed. Marcus is also turning into that sort of player as well, we hope, with his goal.”
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