NOTTINGHAM Forest are closing in on the signature of released Sunderland defender Louis Laing on a one-year deal, with an option for a further 12 months.
The 21-year-old had come under consideration from a host of clubs since Sunderland opted not to renew his contract at the end of last season.
Laing, whose reputation in the game remains high after his promise as a teenager, spent a fortnight on trial with Blackburn Rovers in the final throws of the campaign and then a week training with Manchester United’s Under-21s.
Blackburn were continuing to keep tabs on Laing after impressing during his stint at Ewood Park, but they were not alone, with the centre-half attracting a string of admirers.
Forest have now snapped up Laing.
New Forest boss Stuart Pearce is familiar with Laing from his performances at England youth level.
While Pearce was in charge of England U21s, Laing was representing his country at every age group up to the U19s.
And Pearce will hope he can realise the Newcastle-born defender’s potential after he showed huge promise in his late teenage years.
Laing shone when he went away with Sunderland’s first-team for pre-season during the summer of 2011.
But he was hampered by a succession of injuries, while the stream of managerial changes at the Stadium of Light restricted him to one first-team appearance from the bench at the end of the 2010-11 campaign.
Meanwhile, two other Sunderland academy products are on the move.
Ex-Black Cats striker Chris Brown is poised to join Blackburn from League One new boys Doncaster Rovers.
Incoming joint-Doncaster owner John Ryan said: “Chris Brown has been offered 10 grand a week by Blackburn, you can’t compete with that.”
And former Sunderland and Hartlepool defender Peter Hartley has penned a two-year deal with League Two Plymouth.
Hartley was released by League One Stevenage at the end of last season.