Wigan Athletic must beware Birmingham City hotshot, warns close pal James Vaughan
James Vaughan is well aware of the threat Birmingham striker Lukas Jutkiewicz '“ his close pal and ex-Everton colleague '“ will pose Wigan Athletic this weekend.
The Birmingham striker has banged in 10 goals already this season for a Blues side who have recovered from a slow start to climb within five points of the play-offs.
And Vaughan – who came through the ranks at Everton and partnered Jutkiewicz in the final third – is under no illusions as to the damage he is capable of causing at the DW Stadium.
“He’s a good player and a great lad, and he’s showing the form we all knew he was capable of,” Vaughan told the Wigan Post.
“He’s obviously a big lad but there’s so much to his game than that, as he’s proving this year.
“He’s got great movement, his work-rate is good and I’m really happy for him.
“He’s a handful for any defender and he’s showing he can score goals at this level.
“As long as he doesn’t do too much this weekend long may that continue!”
It’s 14 seasons since Vaughan became the youngest goalscorer in the Premier League for Everton at the age of 16 – a record which stands to this day.
Jutkiewicz joined Everton not long after, and Vaughan looks back on that period in his career with fondness.
“I came through the youth team and we signed Lukas at a young age, so I had plenty of experience of playing alongside him in the reserves on the way to the first team,” he revealed.
“We’ve remained close friends since – but there’s been no contact this week.
“I’m sure he doesn’t want to speak to me, I don’t want to speak to him, we’re just focusing on the big game and we’ll have a chat after.”
Vaughan, who hails from Birmingham and spent a short but not-particularly sweet time at St Andrew’s in 2015-16, says Latics will have to be at their best to challenge a Blues side who are on a real roll under boss Garry Monk.
“They’ve had a new manager and it’s obviously taken him to settle in,” the 30-year-old assessed.
“It looks like he’s done that and they’re flying, which will make it a tough test for us.”
Vaughan is hoping for a recall after being dropped to the bench for last weekend’s 1-0 defeat at rock-bottom Ipswich.
Elsewhere, manager Paul Cook must decide whether to pitch Gavin Massey back into the starting line-up after he returned to the bench at Portman Road following a four month lay-off due to hamstring surgery.
“The squad’s okay at the moment,” Cook said.
“Gavin was back on the bench at Ipswich, and he could have gone on if we’d felt it was totally necessary.
“I just felt with the way the game was going, there wasn’t much value putting him on.
“It wasn’t a great day, he’s been out for a while with hamstring injury, and a cold day isn’t the ideal time to test it out.
“He’s had a full week’s training now and he’s very much in our thoughts for the weekend.
“Chey (Dunkley) was also on the bench at Ipswich, he’s had another week’s training and he also comes into contention.”