Steve McClaren says he’s looking to fast-track Rolando Aarons into his Newcastle United starting XI.
Aarons has recovered from the injury problems which blighted him last season.
And the 19-year-old is ready to kick on under new head coach McClaren, who was blown away by Aarons when he watched him play for England’s Under-20s last season during his time in charge of Derby County.
“I went to watch England Under-20s – we were signing (Liverpool’s) Jordan Ibe,” said McClaren, preparing for Sunday’s season-opener against Southampton at St James’s Park.
“He was on one side and Jordan was on the other. ‘Wow’, I thought. I think I nearly phoned up the next day.
“Alan Pardew was in charge. I was going to say ‘Alan, you’ve got to let this kid come to Derby (on loan) – he’d be fantastic’.
We want him at this football club – he’s going to be one exciting player.Steve McClaren
“He gets you off your seat – you want players like that.”
“He’s got the pace and excitement.
“He’s a little bit erratic and inconsistent. He’s very young, but that will come.
“We don’t want to block Rolando’s progress or his pathway into the first team, where eventually he will be.
“We played him at left-back in one of the pre-season games (against Portland Timbers).
“He was absolutely terrific. That will improve his defensive work.”
Aarons is in the final year of his United contract, though the club has the option of another year, meaning he is effectively tied to the club until the summer of 2017.
However, Aarons signed his deal while still in the development squad. The club offered him a new long-term contract last year, which was rejected.
There have been no fresh talks since last October, despite interest from other Premier League clubs.
A caller to McClaren’s BBC Radio Newcastle phone-in this week implored Newcastle to sign him up to a new contract that reflects his elevation to the first-team squad.
McClaren did not directly address Aarons’ contractual situation, but he said: “We want him at this football club – he’s going to be one exciting player.”