INJURY-ravaged Newcastle are poised to gamble on a debutant teenage striker in tonight's daunting A-League clash with Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium.
Former Marconi junior Brodie Mooy, who has scored three goals in 11 games for Newcastle's youth team this season, is the likely candidate to partner Jets skipper Joel Griffiths in the hot seat up front.
The 18-year-old will be the latest fixture to appear in Newcastle's revolving strike force.
The untimely mid-season departure of Ecuadorean marquee signing Edmundo Zura created a vacancy alongside Griffiths, and injuries have sidelined Jason Hoffman (knee), Jason Naidovski (knee), Sean Rooney (broken hand) and Marko Jesic (knee).
Another attacking option, Danish midfielder Jesper Hakansson, trained lightly yesterday but did not fly with the team to South Australia as he continues to recover from a groin problem.
In their absence, the Jets are likely to blood Mooy, a graduate of the NSW Institute of Sport squad who travelled with Newcastle to Wellington last weekend but did not feature in the 3-0 loss to the Phoenix.
Mooy was given the thumbs-up yesterday by Griffiths, and assistant coach Mark Jones indicated the rookie was likely to feature in Newcastle's starting line-up.
"It'll probably be Brodie Mooy at this stage," Jones said.
"We just haven't got anyone left. Obviously we're very, very thin on strikers, and we obviously need some goalscorers.
"That's quite evident from our for-and-against record, so anyone that can do a job and put the ball in the back of the net will be keenly sought."
Jones described Mooy as "a good young talent", and Griffiths had no hesitation in endorsing that appraisal.
"He's a big lump and he's a good kid," Griffiths said yesterday. "He likes to learn.
"He's very raw, but what I've seen of him he looks like he can really put himself about and be valuable to the team by holding up the ball and hopefully getting on the end of something.
"I'm not sure if he's going to start, and I'm not sure if I'm going to play up front, or left or right wing, or in the hole.
"We'll probably settle on that tomorrow when Dutchy [head coach Gary van Egmond] gets back from Dubai."
Last-placed Newcastle will be rank outsiders against Adelaide but will be hoping a quick turnaround from their 1-0 loss to Melbourne on Tuesday leaves the Reds leg-weary.
"It won't be easy, because Adelaide are a form team," Griffiths said. "We've got so many casualties at the moment and we've got to bring in new faces and throw them in at the deep end.
"But these young players have to learn some way, and this is definitely an opportunity for them."
Despite winning only one of their past 10 games, Newcastle were "definitely confident" of springing an upset tonight, Griffiths said.
"We've just got to take our chances, because it seems like we haven't done that all year," he said.
"If we don't take our chances, we're going to get punished, and we're working hard at training to rectify that."
The Jets suffered a blow yesterday when midfielder Jobe Wheelhouse was ruled out because of a calf injury.
"Jobe needs a scan to determine the full extent of it, but he can't run and is definitely out," Jones said.
Korean import Song Jin-hyung trained strongly yesterday to allay concerns about an ankle injury.