NEWCASTLE Jets are close to finalising a deal with Northern Ireland under-21 captain and senior national squad member Bobby Burns.
Burns is contracted to Scottish Premier League club Hearts and is expected to join the Jets on loan.
The 19-year-old left fullback was on the Northern Ireland bench but not used in a1-0 win over Luxembourg on Friday night.
He then led the under-21s to a 1-all draw with Finland in a 2020-21 European Championship qualifier on Wednesday.
The Newcastle Herald understands that the loan has been agreed to by Hearts and there are only a few minor deals to finalise.
A natural left footer, Burns has played 13 games in the Scottish Premier League.
He would be the third foreigner the Jets have recruited, after former Premier League star and Irishman Wes Hoolahan and Panamanian international Abdiel Arroyo.
Burns is at the opposite end of his career to the experienced Hoolahan and looms as a like-for-like replacement for Ivan Vujica, who has joined new A-League club Western United.
Johnny Koutroumbis and Jason Hoffman have been used at left back during the pre-season.
Koutroumbis is more comfortable on the right or in a central role and Hoffman has played predominantly in attack.
Burns can also be pushed further forward and played at left-stopper against Finland.
Signed by Hearts, who boast Australians Oliver Bozanic and Ben Garrucio, on a three-year deal in 2018, he was loaned out to Livingston and made eight appearances in the Scottish Premier League including a scoreless draw with a Tommy Rogic-led Celtic. He returned to Hearts in January and scored one goal in five appearances but has not featured in the opening five games of the 2019-20 season.
If, as expected, the loan deal with the Jets is finalised, Burns could be here within a fortnight.
In a further boost to the Jets' defensive stocks, captain Nigel Boogaard has resumed full training and is confident of being right for the start of the A-League.
Boogaard had an arthroscope to "clean up" some cartilage in his knee earlier in the pre-season and was this week given the green light by the surgeon.
"I probably pushed a little hard too early and set myself back," Boogaard said. "It's all good now, and I just have to make sure I'm ready for round one. It all stemmed from when I fractured my leg in 2018. Last year I probably played through it a little too much. I didn't want to go through another season like that, especially with an aging body it takes a little more to heal and repair. Ernie said as long as I am ready to go for round one, he will be happy."
Did you know that men have a 1 in 14 chance, and women a 1 in 24 chance, of being diagnosed with a melanoma? Our entire Hyundai A-League squad underwent skin checks after training this morning - and you should too! #MadeOfNewcastle— NEWCASTLE JETS FC ✈️ (@NewcastleJetsFC) September 11, 2019
Boogaard, 33, is off contract at the end of the season and intends to play "for as long as I can".
"At the moment I feel good, I feel fit and by all reports I am not letting anyone down," he said. "I don't want to be hanging around like a bad smell and have to be tapped on the shoulder."
With Nikolai Topor-Stanley (calf) working back to full fitness, Ben Kantarovski and Johnny Koutroumbis are likely to play in the heart of defence against Adelaide in the FFA Cup quarter-final on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Westfield Sports High beat Hunters Sports High 3-0 in the final of the girl's Bill Turner Trophy at Speers Point on Wednesday. Ipswich Grammar beat Endeavour Sports High 2-1 in the boys final.