Huddersfield Town: Lee Novak interview

Ask Lee Novak last summer and the recruit from non-league football would have been happy with 10 appearances on the subs bench for Huddersfield Town this term.

Instead, he has had four times that in actual appearances, the only "10" in the equation being the Geordie's 10 plus number of goals.

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It's 12 and the 21-year-old admits he's already had a dream first season in professional football.

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So impressive has been Novak's switch from non-league Gateshead that in some quarters the forward has been talked up as a likely candidate for Huddersfield Town's player of the year.

Certainly there would be few more deserving winners, the 6ft 2in Novak handling the step up from Blue Square North to League One with aplomb.

A seismic four-league gap has proved a piece of cake for the Newcastle-born player who just two years ago was plying his trade even lower down the football hierarchy with minnows Newcastle Blue Star.

And for Novak, mere mention as a player of the year candidate for League One big guns Huddersfield, really is the stuff of dreams.

Reflecting on his first season as a professional thus far, Novak said: "Just to be even thought about for the award is unbelievable.

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"If someone had asked me before the start of the season how many games

I would be involved in – even on the bench – I would have probably have said that I would be lucky to get to double figures because of where I came from.

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"But everyone has shown confidence in me and when I have played I have obviously done all right for the manager to keep picking me."

Novak said that adapting to the professional game has been far from straightforward, despite appearances to the contrary with his performances on the pitch.

The demands of daily, full-time training and League One games coming thick and fast has left the Geordie's body fatigued at certain times, but for Novak it has been worth it every inch of the way.

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"It took a bit of getting used to and I think the body is still getting used to it a bit," he said.

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"But I'm loving it, I'm loving doing full-time training every day and playing at different grounds.

"I think the biggest crowd I had played in front of before was only two and a half or three thousand.

"Going to Elland Road we were playing in front of 35,000 and when we played Leeds at our place there were 23,000 or 24,000.

"Obviously it's a big difference but I'm loving it."

And not even nerves could get the better of Novak, whose regular games for Gateshead came at the Gateshead International Stadium which while having a capacity of 11,800, is more often than not 90 per cent empty.

"I don't get too nervous before the games and stuff like that," said Novak."I get excited about the whole occasion."

Novak has had 11 occasions to get extra excited this term, the moments in a Huddersfield Town shirt where he has hit the back of the net.

Particular highs include his match-winning brace at Tranmere at the end of February and the front man's winner at Carlisle earlier in the month.

Novak admits that the feeling of scoring takes some topping but the young talent has already become very much a team player at the Galpharm and would swap any personal goal in defeat for three points for Lee Clark's side.

"It's unbelievable scoring in professional football," he said. "But to score a winner is even better.

"It's going well at the minute and I have started scoring a few times again.

"I am playing well but I have been disappointed with us losing the last couple of games in the way we have. I'd rather not score and the team won."

Nevertheless, Novak is proving a winner on a personal note, motoring up the football ranks with the minimum of fuss.

Like manager Clark, the Tynesider began with reputable north-east side Wallsend Boys Club and after playing for the likes of Cramlington and Whitley Bay Cibos FC, it was at Scottish outfit Gretna where he began his youth career.

From there it was on to Newcastle Blue Star and Gateshead where his talents shone, so much so that Clark plucked him from relative non-league obscurity to sign for Huddersfield in January 2009, remaining on loan at Gateshead for the rest of the season.

Novak is very much moving onwards and upwards, now having left his native north east to rent a property in Huddersfield with his girlfriend and looking to purchase a new pad in the area in the not-too-distant future.

But the targetman remembers his roots, often paying visits back up north to share the good times with his former colleagues as well as friends and family.

"I'm living in Huddersfield now but I still see a lot of the people from Gateshead – the coaches and the players and stuff," he said.

"Obviously all my family live in the north East so I try and get up as much as I can.

"Huddersfield is fine, I've just moved down and it's a bit different from Newcastle, but I'm loving it here."

Looking ahead to the future, Novak said: "I have still got another two and a half years left on my contract so I just want to progress with Huddersfield.

"I want to help the club to get to where it deserves to be."

Novak is clearly now where he deserves to be, the big striker's talents

having been recognised by Clark and his days at non-league Gateshead are now in the past.

However, the ultimate highs of professional football remain the same as when plying his trade part-time in Blue Square North.

"The best bits are probably the same as in non-league and just having a winning dressing room," said Novak.

"The winning feeling around the place is unbelievable."

And the worst bits of going full time?

"None of it," smiled Novak. "It's all good."