CRAIG Liddle is relishing a new role at Sunderland after a heart-wrenching end to his Darlington career.
And the Academy coach admits he is ‘excited’ at the prospect of helping unearth the next Jordan Henderson.
Liddle joined the Black Cats yesterday after bringing the curtain down on his time at darlington, where he worked with both the youth set-up and as caretaker manager once the off-field problems gripped the Quakers.
The 40-year-old believes his experiences - both good and bad - will stand him in good stead for his new job working with the youngsters at Sunderland.
He said: “I think my time as Darlington manager strengthened my knowledge but youth football has always been my passion.
“I have known about this for a while but it was important I did everything I could for Darlington and not allow it to be a distraction.
“Throughout my time at Darlington I always said I wanted I saw my future in youth development, so to be given the chance to work at a big club like Sunderland was ideal really.
“I think I have more than proved myself at the level I have working at, and it is nice to see that recognised.
“I will be working with good staff at Sunderland and I am really looking forward to it.
“Jordan Henderson is the one that springs to mind but they have brough a few good players through in recent years.
“For me to be given the opportunity to work with that calibre of players is exciting.”
The move is part of efforts to ensure the club gains the coveted Category One status for their youth development, which requires 18 full-time staff and residential provision.
Youth development in English football is being revolutionised with the introduction of the Elite Player Performance Plan which will divide each club by the category of service they provide to young footballers and Sunderland are determined to acquire the highest status of all.
Liddle joins as development coach for Sunderland’s full time under-17s and under-18s scholars but part of his brief will be to help with the introduction of the Performance Plan.
The former centre-half who started his career as a trainee at Aston Villa before spells with Middlesbrough and Darlington, will take up his new role next month, working under Academy manager Ged McNamee.
McNamee said: “Craig is a fantastic young coach who will bring great knowledge and enthusiasm to our academy scholar.
“We have all seen the passion he has for football over the years, especially recently at Darlington and I’m sure our young lads will look forward to working with Craig.”
H Bolton have signed a deal with adidas which brings to an end the longest kit partnership in British football history.
For 22 years Wanderers have had their kit made by Bolton-born brand Reebok and although the company will retain its status as stadium naming rights holder their will no longer feature on shirts.
“I would like to thank Reebok for their outstanding support in their capacity as technical kit sponsor over the past 22 years,” said Bolton chief executive Allan Duckworth.
Bolton will launch their new kit in the npower Championship in August, having been relegated from the Barclays Premier League earlier this month.