THE Newcastle Jets have stolen one of the Australia's hottest young strikers, Sean Rooney, from underneath the noses of A-League rivals Sydney FC.
Rooney will train with the Jets for the first time today, and coach Gary van Egmond has not ruled out rushing the 19-year-old into his squad for the must-win battle with the Queensland Roar at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday.
From Blacktown, Rooney is the leading scorer in the national youth league and comes into the squad as an injury replacement for Young Socceroo Jason Naidovski.
Naidovski will have knee surgery on Wednesday and faces at least six weeks, possibly the season, on the sideline.
Rooney has scored nine goals in nine games for Sydney in the youth league, including twice in the 3-2 loss to the Jets on Saturday night, which was Sydney's first defeat of the season.
"We have been keeping an eye on him for some time," Jets coach Gary van Egmond said last night.
"He has obviously done very well in the youth league. He is a big strong boy, can use both feet, has a nice touch. He doesn't have blistering pace, but he has a knack for scoring goals.
"We will have a look at him at training tomorrow and again on Saturday and go from there.
"Scoring goals in youth league is one thing; scoring them in senior football is another."
Jets high-performance manager Ian Crook negotiated the deal, which has been approved by Football Federation Australia.
"He has shown potential from a very young age," Crook said.
"He had a serious back injury a few years back but has made a full recovery.
"He plays predominantly with his back to goal, but can also drop into holes and is a natural goalscorer."
He is not the experienced scorer the Jets have been desperately searching for, but van Egmond said he had the potential to make the grade.
"We were not the only club looking at him," he said.
"At this stage he is in as a replacement for Jason, but if all goes to plan, he could be here long-term."