Us NUFC fans haven’t been used to seeing youngsters make the big step up from the U-23’s to first-team level in recent years, but there’s one man in our youth ranks who I’m tipping to buck that trend – and that’s Victor Fernandez.
The Barcelona-born winger was signed from Spanish second division side UE Cornella in January last year and he immediately began to catch the eye at U-23 level.
I don’t get to as many second string games as I’d like to, but whenever I’ve got the chance to watch him his pace, trickery and close control often stood out – and it seems like he’s been catching the eye of Rafa Benitez too.
He’s yet to play in a competitive game at senior level, but he’s been handed several opportunities to train with the first-team and looks set to be included in our annual training camp in Ireland.
Not only did the 20-year-old impress during his 45-minute cameo in our mid-season friendly with Royal Antwerp in March – looking anything but out of place at senior level (albeit against poor Belgian opposition), but he was named player of the tournament during the U-23’s run to Hong Kong Soccer Sevens title last month.
He no doubt has a long way to go, but there’s something about this lad. He looks pretty fearless on the ball, elusive in possession and has a touch of class and turn of pace about him.
Definitely one to watch over pre-season this summer.