At East End Park on Tuesday evening, two trialists started with the U20s in a chance to earn themselves a contract with Dunfermline Athletic.
The two names were Shaun Rooney and Rhys McCabe. Rooney had been on the bench for the two previous league games while McCabe has been training with the club over the last fortnight.
Now McCabe is a former Rangers youth player that left when the club went into administration. As a highly rated teenager, he caught the attention of many teams. Sheffield Wednesday beat out them out for his signature. In his debut season, he played in over half the games in the team that survived the Championship.
His play is very similar to Josh Falkingham, a diminutive midfielder that pops up all over the park. He is very vocal to his teammates, commanding the best from them and barking instructions to those around him. A trait that is unusually in a 23-year-old, but sought after none the less.
However, his performance was not the standout of the match. Shaun Rooney recently celebrated his 19th birthday but looked much more experienced than his 40 odd first-team appearances.
The right-back stands at six foot, three inches tall, and looks the part of an athlete. Just from his performances last season, those in the know have been raving about him. This year he was featured on STV’s 15 for ’15 and Tell him He’s Pele’s League Two Team of the Year. Premiership outfit, Hearts and recently relegated St.Mirren have already had the teenager on trial, so if the Pars were to sign him, it would be a real coup.
Shaun started playing football with his local side, Bellshill Boys’ Club. From there he moved to Dundee United at U15 level and was there for three seasons before moving to Queen’s Park and making his debut at Hampden against Ayr United on 27th July 2013. It was not until the next season that he started to flourish in the Spiders’ starting XI.
You can draw comparisons between himself and Ryan Williamson. Both teenagers are tall modern day right sided full-backs. Meaning they have the ability to dribble down their flank, overlapping their teammate in the process and getting a cross into the box.
However, Rooney seems to be able to organise a backline, in the match you could hear him vocally tell the defenders to push up together and where to position themselves in dead ball situations. What this may mean is he may becoming more of a ball-playing central defender when he matures. It is not apparent if it is in Williamson to undertake that task.
He showed ability and trickery when the area opened up ahead of him. Getting away from his marker with relative ease and gave them a torrid time of it till his substitution. It does help when like him you are strong and pacy and believe in your ability with the ball at your feet.
Now I thought Williamson was the key man in this Dunfermline side as he complimented Allan Johnston’s style of play. Someone that can play as an extra attacker and provide width on an overload is a nightmare for a defence that will get dragged all over the place. Unfortunately, because of his broken leg it is a talent that Pars fans have been robbed of watching in this campaign.
Although if Rooney is a viable option to sign then he will more than make up for the unavailability of the right-back that made the League One team of the Year at the age of 17.
Now I know I am saying all of this off the back of a two-nil victory against the Hearts U20s. However, I will reiterate that this should be his level considering his age, but he is showing so much more that good teams are looking at him as an option a little while down the road.
You just have to look at the youth academy graduates from Dundee United and Queen’s Park over the last few years and think why can he not be the latest in what is a long line of them.
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