Rising star Howieson compared to Ryan Nelsen

TONY SMITH
Last updated 05:00 30/03/2012

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Christchurch football scout Graham McMann believes new Burnley recruit Cameron Howieson has the potential to be "as good and as big as Ryan Nelsen".

McMann – a former under-16 squad coach at Burnley – had no hesitation recommending the 17-year-old to his old club after following Howieson's progress since his days as a junior at Otago club Mosgiel.

"I went down to watch him at the under-14 South Island tournament in Timaru and recommended him to the [Asia Pacific Football] academy," McMann said.

After watching Howieson's progress at APFA where McMann formerly worked as a scout, he got in touch with his contacts at Burnley and said he believed he'd found "someone special".

McMann remembers being asked: "Are you, positive, Graham ... a New Zealander? We don't take rugby players, you know?"

But the club agreed to give Howieson a trial so McMann took him to Turf Moor last April for a week's trial.

He said the teenager made an instant impression on the club's coaching staff. "They asked me if we have any more Cameron Howiesons in New Zealand," McMann said.

Howieson was offered a two-year scholarship after scoring two goals in a trial game at Carlisle, catching the eye of Burnley's former director of youth development, ex-Burnley, Everton and England midfielder Martin Dobson.

"After the trial at Carlisle, Martin Dobson said to me, `he's an absolute gem'," McMann said. "He said Cam reminded him of himself [as a young player]. That really means something coming from a former England midfielder."

McMann, who has friends on the coaching staff at Burnley, said reports of Howieson's performances for the youth team and reserves, showed he was "getting better and better".

He said it was "very unusual for a lad in his first season at an English club to get a 2 1/2 year pro deal".

"That shows how highly they rate Cam."

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