Pukki backed to handle Premier League step up

Teemu Pukki is good enough to play in the Premier League for Norwich City, says his old international mentor Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Teemu Pukki is good enough to play in the Premier League for Norwich City, says his old international mentor Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Paul Chesterton

Norwich City’s prolific striker Teemu Pukki is Premier League class, insists the man who gave him his big break at international level.

Pukki will be a key part of Finland’s bid to upset Italy in this weekend’s opening European Championship qualifier, after a stunning first season for the Canaries.

The 24-goal Championship top scorer has fired his club into the promotion mix, and his former mentor, Mixu Paatelainen, is convinced he can take the next step up.

“Can he score in the Premier League? For me, yes,” he said. “He is a quick player who likes to run in behind, so he is made for counter-attacking tactics.

“I would assume that if Norwich manage to go up this year Daniel (Farke) will stick with him and he will be very useful for counter-attacking tactics.

“He is certainly not fazed by playing against big teams. He scored against Spain for us, when we drew away in a World Cup qualifier. So he can score on big occasions, no question at all.

“His pace and ability allows him to do that. He plays on that last shoulder.

“Teemu has always been very light on his feet, always very capable of getting in behind defences. His instincts inside the box are sound and he has always been a very good finisher. So I am not surprised at all he is doing so well.

“I’ve not been down to watch Norwich this season but I have seen him on television plenty of times, and he has been looking really bright.”

Pukki was labelled a ‘flop’ after misfiring at Celtic but Paatelainen, who played and managed in Scotland, insists that opportunity came too early.

“It is difficult going to a club like Celtic when you are still quite a young player and you have to displace established players to get a place,” he said, speaking to the Herald.

“It wasn’t a successful time for him there but sometimes that happens. It doesn’t mean someone should be considered a flop or a failure.

“As far as his personality goes, he is not a strong voice in the dressing room, he does his own business, is a good lad and a model professional.

“But he is not a very strong character who runs the show, so going to the Celtic dressing room with very strong characters might have affected Teemu’s personality and confidence a little bit.”

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