Life Beyond the Premier League: James Vaughan starts to deliver on youthful promise after finally staying injury-free

Life Beyond the Premier League

Wayne Rooney is not the only Everton academy graduate to have reminded the world recently what he can do. His former youth-team strike partner at Goodison Park, Michael Symes, scored for Burton Albion against Fulham in the Capital One Cup while, over at Huddersfield Town, James Vaughan – the man who replaced Rooney as Everton's youngest-ever goalscorer – hit a hat-trick in a 5-1 win over Bournemouth on Saturday that maintained his team's bright start to the Championship campaign.

In the case of Vaughan, his treble underlined a rich vein of form that suggests the one-time teenage prodigy is finally poised to fulfil his considerable promise. He has seven goals already this term for seventh-placed Huddersfield, building on the 14 he struck on loan last season which helped the west Yorkshire club escape relegation – and earned him their Player of the Year award and a permanent £600,000 transfer from Norwich City. "I've always felt if I can get a run of games together and start playing regularly I can start trying to show people what I am about," he tells The Independent.

For Vaughan, getting that run of games was the problem. Now 25, he was 16 years and 271 days old when his goal against Crystal Palace in April 2005 set not just a club but a Premier League scoring record. What happened next was an awful run of luck with injuries. There were several knee operations, the severed artery in his ankle he suffered one Easter Monday at Bolton and, as he recalls with particular dismay, the dislocated shoulder which stopped him just as he looked poised for a breakthrough season in 2007.

"I'd scored on the last day of the [2006-07] season at Chelsea, I went away with the Under-21s [to the European Championship] and came back to Everton ready to play. In the first pre-season game I dislocated my shoulder and subsequently Everton went out and bought Yakubu for £11m so it was quite hard to get in after that. That was a really low point."

All in all he made only 11 starts for Everton and, after a season on loan at Crystal Palace, moved on to Norwich in 2011. Once there, though, his injury jinx struck again: he suffered a cartilage injury in only his third substitute appearance after his £2.5m transfer and ended up making just one start for the club. "I spent a tough year at Norwich. It wasn't easy – I was away from all my friends and family and wasn't playing."

Happily, two years on, he is fully fit and scoring goals, so what is the difference for a player once described by David Moyes as "too brave for his own good"? He replies: "It's about knowing my body a bit better, so if I am feeling tired or tight I will let the physios know. I've learned to manage my body better, I've kept myself in better condition but ultimately it was about a run of games. I've got used to playing regularly – at Everton I wasn't playing regularly and was coming off the bench." And when he did, as he concedes, he would try too hard to impress.

The influence of Huddersfield manager Mark Robins, the one-time Manchester United striker, is also helping. "If you look at my record since he came in, he has massively helped me out with my goalscoring," Vaughan explains. "He works with me daily on my movement in and around the box. When he first came in he did a lot of work to help me get in better scoring positions."

If he needs any further advice, he can always turn to his new father-in-law, Mike Newell, another ex-Evertonian. Vaughan married Newell's daughter Sophie in the summer and tweeted a photo of their idyllic-looking honeymoon destination, Bora Bora in the south Pacific. "It was a long way but worth it when I got there," he says. A bit like his journey to Huddersfield – even if the similarities end there.

Sport
formula oneLive lap-by-lap coverage of championship decider
News
Boxing promoter Kellie Maloney, formerly known as Frank Maloney, entered the 2014 Celebrity Big Brother house
people
Arts and Entertainment
tvStrictly presenter returns to screens after Halloween accident
News
video
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleFormer civil rights activist who was jailed for smoking crack cocaine has died aged 78
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
News
i100
Life and Style
Small winemakers say the restriction makes it hard to sell overseas
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
Life and Style
fashionThe Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin