Huddersfield Town striker Martin Paterson is a man on a mission in pre-season as he looks to work his way back into manager Mark Robins' thinking ahead of the 2014/2015 season.

The coming weeks represent something of a fork in the road for the Northern Ireland international in his bid to convince Town of his worth.

Judging by Paterson's lively cameo against AEL Limassol, which he capped by scoring Town's third from the penalty spot i a 3-1 win, this is a striker keen to make up for lost time after falling down the pecking order as a result of Nahki Wells' arrival in January.

He also made an appearance against SC Portimonense during Town's trip to the Algarve and while he has failed to truly cement a first-team position since arriving from Burnley last summer, it is easy to forget the glut of goals he scored during the festive period before being shipped out on loan to Bristol City for the remainder of the 2013/2014 campaign.

He will hope to put pressure on the likes of James Vaughan, who scored four times in two matches in Portugal, and Wells and with just a year left on his contract at the John Smith's Stadium, it feels very much make-or-break now in his hopes to play a key role in the upcoming season.

Here are five reasons why the Northern Ireland international can force his way back in at Town.

 

Commitment

Having pulled out of Northern Ireland's tour of South America earlier in the summer in a bid to step up his fitness, it is clear that Paterson is intent on proving himself at Town in the coming weeks.

Turning his back on the opportunity to garner an additional couple of caps should not be understated as it could have been easier for Paterson to have opted for the international scene after his end to last season.

Indeed, Paterson himself conceded his future was far from certain after his loan spell with Bristol City came to a close but since returning he has worked hard to prove he is in tip-top shape and not someone who will voluntarily wait on the sidelines for his opportunity.

Instead, his decision to return - coupled with his early pre-season form - has offered Mark Robins some welcome selection problems and options in the final third.

Over Christmas, it seemed there was no stopping Paterson as he benefited from Vaughan's injury problems to lead the line and notch in four successive games across both league and FA Cup.

His last goal came in the game directly before Wells' arrival and the former Bradford City striker upstaged his new team-mate by netting less than 24 hours after signing on the dotted line with the winner against Millwall.

He went on to feature in just four of the club's next nine games and then moved to Ashton Gate. His failure to sparkle was surely down to the confidence hit he had suffered.

If there are questions about the suitability of Paterson to what Robins is trying to achieve at Town, then there can be no such queries about his commitment to the cause.

Flexibility

Paterson is primarily right-footed and enjoys operating largely down the middle, utilising his ability to play on the last line of defence to create space for others and latch onto the ammunition supplied by the likes of Adam Clayton and others behind him.

He did exactly that against Derby on Boxing Day last season as he raced onto a Duane Holmes through ball to send an expert lobbed finish over Lee Grant in the Rams goal.

But the 27-year-old is equally adept on the flanks in an attacking formation and also playing just off the frontman, where he can become more involved in play.

Town fans will also be aware of the fact Mark Robins likes to alternate his tactics, with the 3-5-2 formation allowing for different personnel and as such versatility in a player's skill set can prove a very useful asset to the manager.

Paterson is able to play in a number of positions around the attacking areas and make an impact wherever he plays, whether he is scoring goals or creating the space for the likes of Vaughan and Wells to exploit.

 

Experience

While a 27-year-old hardly qualifies for veteran status in the Town ranks, it is particularly pertinent that just three players in the squad are older than Paterson.

Anthony Gerrard (28), fellow fringe striker Jonathan Stead (31) and Joe Murphy (32) offer slightly more experience in terms of years, but Paterson offers international status, Premier League pedigree with Burnley and will have been in the game for 10 years in 2015.

Paterson translates the experience he has garnered during his career onto the pitch, where he is efficient in keeping the ball and making the right decisions with it, even if he does not quite offer the searing speed of Vaughan and Wells.

It is the sort of responsible characters like Paterson that can help avoid another flirt with relegation next term and help lead Town up the table.

Goals

He is not the 25-goal-a-season striker that Vaughan or Wells could prove to Town's frontline, but Paterson does have a knack of finding the net wherever he goes.

And as he proved during a productive if brief spell at the tip of the Town attack, this is a player who has plenty to offer in front of goal.

It's clear it hinges on the creativity of those behind him but as he displayed with some assured finishing over Christmas, there is a finisher in there somewhere which Robins could work with to utilise his strengths.

The problem both the manager and the player face lies with the fact Vaughan and Wells just keep on on firing the goals which make it difficult to exclude them from the XI.

And as his goalscoring run showed, it is about having the confidence to flourish with Paterson, who did just that after being handed a prolonged spell in the side.

He might not be afforded that now, but if he can harness his talents in the final third when emerging from the bench, there could be a potent weapon for Robins to call upon from the bench when the chips are down.

 

Competition for places

The signing of Joe Murphy has been hailed by many and it marked a significant shift in what Robins wants to be able to boast within his squad - competition.

Murphy and Smithies will now directly compete for the much-coveted No.1 spot which Smithies had monopolised ever since helping Town achieve promotion to the second tier in 2012.

Similarly, Lee Peltier's arrival offers competition in various areas of the pitch, such is the former Leeds United's man adaptability.

The message appears to be clear; no-one will be allowed to rest on their laurels in 2014/2015.

And that should apply up front too. Vaughan and Wells cannot be expected to maintain the same level of form throughout an entire season and additional options will be required to fill the void on occasions.

Likewise, Vaughan will have to be carefully monitored while he continues his rehabilitation from surgery on his knee and Robins will undoubtedly be wary of putting too much pressure on his main spearhead.

When Vaughan was ruled out for the latter half of 2013/2014, Robins only had Wells to call upon following the loan exits of Stead and Paterson.

He will be keen to avoid a repeat of that situation and Paterson can help to remedy that.

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Five things for Mark Robins to consider during pre-season - click here to read

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