|By PADDY HIGGS
Brisbane Roar attacker Nick Fitzgerald will return to former club Central Coast at the end of 2012-13 A-League season after penning a two-year deal.
The 20-year-old has been with the Roar since August 2011, having been signed from the Mariners' National Youth League squad after one senior appearance with the Gosford club.
Fitzgerald played a key role off the bench in the Roar's 2011-12 grand final win, but the Australia youth international has made just two starts this campaign.
The league-leading Mariners have now swooped to add Sydney-born Fitzgerald to their squad next season.
"With Nick we know exactly what we are going to get," Mariners coach Graham Arnold said. "He is a player of enormous potential."
"We believe we can help Nick take his game to the next level and for us he ticks all of the boxes when we look to sign a player. He's a good, Australian kid with great ability, but perhaps more importantly he's driven to succeed in his professional career."
Fitzgerald said: "The most important thing for me is to be playing regular, high quality football."
"After some recent discussions with Graham Arnold, I am confident that I will be given that opportunity at the Mariners."
While Fitzgerald will spend the rest of the season with the Roar, his move is yet another change to the club's squad under new coach Mike Mulvey.
Japan youth international defender Yuji Takahashi's season-long loan was cut short in December, while Rocky Visconte was released to join Western Sydney Wanderers.
Midfield lynchpin Erik Paartalu should seal a move to China in the coming days, though Australia international Jade North has arrived to help shore up the club's defence and talented former Melbourne Victory prospect Julius Davies has also signed.
The reigning champions face a real battle to save their season, having slumped to third bottom on the A-League table after Saturday's dour 1-0 loss to the Newcastle Jets.