The Graduates: No. 3 Chris Shuker
- 06 October 2011 09:36
- Posted by Peter Ferguson
The diminutive right-sided midfielder made his League debut for another club. A loan spell at Macclesfield Town in March 2001 saw him come on as a substitute in a 2-1 League Two victory over Blackpool.
Shuker scored his first goal two weeks later, the only goal of Macc's home win over Kidderminster, and he returned to City at the end of the season having gained invaluable experience in making eight appearances for the Silkmen.
He eventually made his City debut in September of the same year, replacing Eyal Berkovic and justifying the manager's faith by scoring the first goal in the 4-2 League Cup win at Notts County.
Two more Division One substitute appearances followed, but the Huyton-born midfielder had to wait almost a year before he figured again, by which time City had returned to the Premier League.
He made his top-flight debut at Elland Road against Leeds in August 2002 and finally enjoyed his first-ever start for the club in the 2-2 home draw with Blackburn the following month.
But that was the extent of his progress with the Blues. Further loan spells, at Walsall, Rochdale and Hartlepool, followed in 2003 before he was eventually signed for a nominal fee by Barnsley in March 2004.
At the end of his first full campaign in 2005 he was voted player of the season at Oakwell and was instrumental in their promotion, via the play-offs, in 2006.
Shuker went on to play 112 games and score 18 goals for the Tykes until his contract expired and he moved to his native Merseyside, joining Tranmere Rovers on a free transfer. He featured in every League game of the 2006-07 season, racking up more minutes than any other player in first-team action, and was deservedly named in the PFA League One team of the season.
The following campaign was disrupted by an injury incurred in a Boxing Day clash with Carlisle, but initial fears of cruciate ligament damage proved over-pessimistic, and he returned to action in the Spring of 2008, a Prenton Park regular thereafter until his release at the end of 2009-10.
A trial with Scottish Premier League club Motherwell failed to end in a deal despite scoring in a friendly win over Forfar, and after debating a move to New Zealand he played for Morecambe last season, scoring twice in 30 appearances. He is currently a free agent.