LEE CLARK is backing Town-bound striker Lee Novak to sign off at Gateshead by firing them into the Blue Square Premier.
The 20-year-old Geordie striker’s 27-goal haul has put him in line for the Conference North golden boot award and helped Gateshead make the divisional play-offs as runners-up to Tamworth.
They go to Southport for their semi-final first leg tonight, with the return taking place on Sunday.
The winners will meet Alfreton or Telford in the final on Friday week, with a place in what used to be called the Conference up for grabs.
Novak joins Town full-time this summer having agreed a three-and-a-half-year contract back in January, when he was immediately loaned back to the non-league club.
He has maintained the frontline form which first attracted Clark, who both played and coached across the Tyne at Newcastle, so has solid contacts in the area.
Novak has been handed a fitness programme to follow before he links up with Town for pre-season training on June 29.
But first he’ll be focusing on Gateshead’s bid for glory, and Clark would love to see him succeed.
“We’ve monitored Lee regularly, both before and after signing him, and we’ll be watching him in the play-off semi-finals and hopefully final,” said Clark, who was today beginning the countdown to Saturday’s final League I game at Leyton Orient.
“The whole point of allowing him to return to Gateshead on loan was to help them win promotion.
“We all hoped it would have been automatically as champions, and they were in the hunt for a long time.
“It didn’t work out like that, but they’ve got a great chance in the play-offs, and Lee will be an influential player for them.
“He’s a natural goalscorer and he has a huge desire to succeed, and that’s what we like so much about him.
“He’s been down here for training sessions on a number of occasions, so he’s had a chance to meet the rest of the players, and I know he’s looking forward to becoming a full-time Huddersfield Town player.”
Gateshead boss Ian Bogie, who signed Novak from Newcastle Blue Star in September, also believes the former Gretna academy frontman will be key to his side’s chances against Southport.
“It will be a team effort if we are successful in the play-offs, but Novak will play a big part. He has been outstanding,” he said.
It’s all-ticket for Town supporters at Orient, with 800 of the 1,500 allocation already gone.
Supporters must purchase from the Galpharm ticket office by 4.00 on Friday.
l Town have taken on five first-year scholars: left-back Greg Pearson, centre-back Adam Field, central midfielder Adam Colton, winger Michael McCaffery and striker Shane Birtles.