ADAM MITCHELL is one of four Sunderland youngsters who have been released by the Black Cats.
Winger Mitchell along with midfielder Ross Holland, left-back Jordan Watson and striker Carl Lawson, have all been told that their contracts will not be renewed by the Black Cats.
Mitchell has been a regular for Sunderland Under-21s over the last two seasons and joined non-league Darlington on loan until the end of the campaign last month.
The 19-year-old, who spent time on loan at Harrogate Town before Christmas, made his one and only first-team appearance in the final game of last season, as a late substitute in the 1-0 defeat at Tottenham.
Holland and Lawson have struggled to hold down regular spots in Kevin Ball’s development side, while Watson has only just recovered from a long-term injury.
The quartet are only likely be the beginning of the changes to the Sunderland U21 squad this summer, with the futures of several players on the line.
As the Echo reported last week, defender Louis Laing’s future hangs in the balance, depending on which division Sunderland are competing in next season.
The 21-year-old, who Sunderland had high hopes for when he was coming through the ranks as a teenager, is out-of-contract next summer and is likely to be released if the Black Cats remain in the Premier League.
Sunderland, who freed development squad pair Liam Marrs and Craig Lynch at the turn of the year, will also have to make decisions on several other out-of-contract players including Billy Knott and John Egan - currently on loan at Port Vale and Southend respectively.
Should the Black Cats preserve their top flight status, those players would need to be registered in the first-team squad.
But if Sunderland are relegated to the Championship - as now seems more likely - it could increase their chances of being handed a new deal.
One player who has already been given a new contract though is midfielder Liam Agnew, who impressed for the U21s earlier in the season and has spent the past three months with non-league Boston.
Agnew, who is highly-rated by Sunderland’s coaching staff, has penned a new two-year deal with the Black Cats.
Left-back Thomas Robson is also understand to have agreed a first professional contract with Sunderland after several impressive performances for the U21s.
Robson, who was attracting interest from Championship clubs, has agreed a one-year deal.