BY ALAN TEMPLE – Capital City Press
Shaun Rooney could become the latest Queen’s Park prospect to earn a move to the Scottish Premiership as Hearts run the rule over the highly-rated defender.
The 18-year-old has impressed on trial with the Jambos this month and turned in a fine display for the under-20s side against their Kilmarnock counter-parts on Tuesday night, even striking the bar with a first-half header.
Rooney, standing at a towering 6ft 3ins, made 30 appearances for the Spiders last term, scoring four goals and earning a place in the PFA Scotland League Two team of the year.
However, the right-back, who can also operate at centre-half, now appears destined for the full-time ranks, with several clubs monitoring his progress.
Rooney has also been the subject of interest from St Mirren, spending a fortnight on trial with the Buddies, but Hearts are now in pole position for the player’s signature.
He will hope to emulate fellow Queen’s Park youth products Blair Spittal, Aidan Connolly, Lawrence Shankland and Andrew Robertson – who starred for Hull City in the Barclay’s Premier League last season following a stint at Dundee United – by featuring in the Scottish top-flight.
Meanwhile, Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson believes the Jambos’ eye-catching return to the Premiership will be welcomed by the whole of Scottish football.
The capital club are riding high following their promotion from the Championship, winning all four of their league matches so far to surge two points clear at the summit of the table.
Hearts have sold out both of their home fixtures against St Johnstone and Motherwell this term as supporters dream of an unlikely title tilt.
That has been mirrored on the road, with 2,300 travelling to Dens Park and 1,300 making the long trip to Dingwall to witness the 2-1 triumph against Ross County last weekend.
And Neilson believes the impact being made by Hearts on their return to the big time can only be beneficial to the game in this country.
He said: “Last season we sold out every venue, this season we are doing the same. It’s great for us to have that backing – but it’s also good for Scottish football to have us back in the top-flight and filling away ends.
“The supporters were magnificent on Saturday, the travelling support we’ve had over the last year since we went into the Championship has been phenomenal, probably one of the best travelling supports in Scotland, if not the best.”