ASPIRING Black Cats stars will be warm this winter thanks to an indoor “training barn”.
The purpose-built facility is being built at the Academy of Light, in Cleadon, and is expected to open later this year.
It will feature an indoor “training barn”, with a state-of-the-art artificial surface plus an outdoor area.
Elliott Dickman, head of coaching, said he is impressed with the progress being made – with work starting at the site toward the end of last season – and said the new facility would be a valuable addition to the Academy of Light.
Parts of the roof and walls are now being built.
“The new indoor facility is massive,” he said.
“When you think we’ve been working at Crowtree Leisure Centre on a 60m x 40m area, we’ve been crammed in there with two or three groups on at a time.
“The indoor facility is going to be a massive luxury for us.
“It’s very important, especially with the bad weather and the dark nights we have that we can get more contact time with our younger players.”
Earlier this year, Sunderland AFC was given the go-ahead to develop the site at Cleadon.
Permission was granted by a senior Government minister, after South Tyneside Council approved earlier plans at a local level.
The indoor arena and artificial pitch will allow academy youngsters to continue training during winter months, dark evenings and bad weather.
Speaking at the time, SAFC chief executive Margaret Byrne said: “Naturally we are delighted that our application has been approved by the Planning Committee and we thank them for their diligence in considering our proposals.
“We want to ensure Sunderland continues to attract and nurture the best young home-grown talent, and having top-class facilities certainly helps us in that respect.”