Fitzgerald ready to Roar

Nicholas Fitzgerald has only seen live Hyundai A-League action in Central Coast colours, but he's the young gun that could prove one of Brisbane's most valuable weapons by the business end of 2011-12.

Nicholas Fitzgerald has only seen live Hyundai A-League action in Central Coast colours, but he's the young gun that could prove one of Brisbane's most valuable weapons by the business end of 2011-12.

An off-season recruit to the defending champions, Fitzgerald was head-hunted by none other than the competition's reining Coach of the Year, Ange Postecoglou, who says the 19-year-old has the potential to be an end of season key.

Possessing a potent blend of rich attacking talents - passing awareness, goal-front instinct, athleticism and skill on the ball - Fitzgerald's form in the National Youth League reinforces one thing again and again: He's ready for senior football.

In Brisbane's most recent outing against the AIS, he was unstoppable. He shredded defenders on the right flank and carved infield at will; he was the man his teammates wanted to get the ball to and when he had it, he used it with contemptuous efficiency, finishing with two bright goals for the afternoon.

But this is the Brisbane Roar and so a player who would be starting on a handful of other sides waits behind an A-League A-List of attacking talent, including Besart Berisha, Thomas Broich, Henrique, Kofi Danning and fringe prospects James Meyer and Rocky Visconte.

It looks like a long climb to the top of that pecking order, but Postecoglou has plenty of encouragement for the under-age Australian rep.

"Fitzy is going really well. He's training really well and he's getting closer. He's one of the guys we expect to step up this year, particularly at the end of the year when we've got the Asian Champions League commitments," said Postecoglou.

"We couldn't be happier with the way he's developing."

"He's someone that I went and personally had a look at last year with (Central Coast's) youth team, and he's shown a desire to come up and work with us and that's a big thing for me."

"We really want people who see coming here as a benefit to them and he did a full pre-season with us without the promise of anything and I thought he excelled."

"He earned his contract with us and we're expecting him to play a key part."

A long list of talent standing in the way of higher honours could be a daunting or discouraging proposition for any player, but it was clearly Fitzgerald's maturity and dedication as much as his on-field ability that attracted the club.

At this point in his footballing journey, he's ready to sponge up the knowledge, knowing full-well he'll have his chance and when he does he'll need to be ready to meet the club's proud standards.

"Every day there's challenges being put in front of us and playing against the best you have to get better," he said.

"I'm learning and learning and playing good minutes in the youth team, which is really competitive for spots as well."

"The injuries that some other clubs have had already, you know it could happen (to us) and everyone in the squad has to be ready to do their part when they're called on."

"(Once you get the opportunity) you see how well guys like Mitch Nichols have done, making Socceroos teams out of the A-League now."

And as for the inside word on the move between from the Mariners to the Roar just months after one of the most epic grand-finals in sporting history? There were no hard feelings.

"I'm still good mates with lots of the boys there. I still watch all the Mariners games and it's still a club that I have a lot of respect for," said Fitzgerald.

"There're a lot of things that are the same between the clubs and the way they go about things. I haven't got a bad word to say about anyone there."

"They all knew it was an opportunity for me and it's working out good."

And on the transition to the success-centric Roar environment: "When I first got here I had to pinch myself training with some of the players."

"But everyone's been awesome from the start and the environment is all about getting better."

"Erik Paartalu (took me under the wing). From the start he was helping me out with whatever I needed and telling me what to do and not what to do on the pitch. Him and guys like Matty Smith and Shane Stefanutto have been great."

Ange Postecoglou often likes to remind that the club have done pretty well with their recruitment; in Fitzgerald, it looks like they've hit the mark again.