Newcastle Jets midfielder Ruben Zadkovich has warned teenage sensation Craig Goodwin not to get carried away by the hype.
Goodwin produced a star turn in the Round 2 A-League clash against Sydney FC with an assist and a classy goal.
Zadkovich said it's vital for the youngster to put the plaudits in perspective as the Jets prepare for the F3 derby against unbeaten Central Coast Mariners at Hunter Stadium on Saturday.
"Craig is an interesting character. He's one of those who let his football do the talking and the main thing for him now is he needs to be very careful to keep his feet on the ground, which I am sure he will do," Zadkovich said.
"If he accomplishes that, he will be a massive player for us.
"He came here as a defender but after scoring several screamers pre-season, he's quickly been pushed up the field and given the chance to really express himself.
"He's only a 20-year-old kid and we don't want to put any added pressure on him.
"He has bundles of talent, it's just going to be a matter of consistency and attitude for him from now on because a lot of players have been in a position of receiving lots of hype over a few performances."
Despite the effervescence of their football against what Zadkokich describes as a 'poor' Sydney, the 27-year-old is reluctant to read too much into the Jets' performance.
"Even though we got the result and created a lot of chances we still have a fair bit of work to do," Zadkovich said.
"We have to look at the finer details of matches. We only won by one goal against Sydney and made some basic errors. But overall, there's been a definite improvement from last year and it looks like it's coming together.
"It's too early to be getting carried away by anything. In our first game against Adelaide (a 2-0 home loss) we weren't good at all but in saying that we have a really strong squad - good enough to challenge anybody in the competition.
"The boss Gary van Egmond wants us to express ourselves going forward and has given us the confidence to go and do that."
Switched from right-back to midfield this season after the arrival of Scott Neville and Josh Brillante, Zadkovich's presence will be pivotal to releasing the likes of Emile Heskey and Ryan Griffiths.
"Central midfield is where I feel I am at my best," Zadkovich said.
Zadkovich is also ecstatic at the immediate impact produced by Heskey, who fired a typical poacher's goal against Sydney, and looks set to flourish in the A-League once he has attained full match fitness.
"He's great and is the type of player we haven't seen too many of in Australia. He's a typical number nine and I haven't seen too many of those around the competition in my time," Zadkovich said.
"He's only been here a few weeks but it feels like a few months because he's blended in so well. He's humble and grounded and still an excellent player.
"He gives us another outlet with his ability to hold the ball up and score. He's going to be massive for us this year. It's a brilliant feeling to play along somebody of his calibre."
Zadkovich has counselled his team-mates against the possibility of a 'hangover' from their win over Sydney when they face the Mariners, explaining: "It's easy to believe we can now go out and beat Central Coast but theory and practice are two different things.
"We'll have to earn the win. We've got to forget about last week.
"We're up against a totally different team in a totally different match. There's now pressure and expectation on us and it's going to take a huge effort to take the points against a team which hasn't concede a goal yet.
"Against Sydney the pressure was all on them, nobody expected us to play as well as we did. Now they are expecting us to deliver and we need to be wary of the possibility of a hangover from that performance."
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