SUNDERLAND have been scouting Hartlepool United defender Jack Baldwin.
The 20-year-old, along with fellow promising Pools youngster Luke James, have been watched by a host of clubs after impressing for the League Two outfit this season.
And a Sunderland scout, along with representatives from Stoke, Blackburn and Huddersfield, were in attendance for Pools’ FA Cup clash with Coventry City last weekend.
Essex-born central defender Baldwin, 20, has helped Pools to record eight clean sheets so far this season, while 19-year-old striker James, from Amble in Northumberland, has already bagged 10 goals.
Victoria Park boss Colin Cooper has recently admitted that the scouts list that lands on his desk on match days was growing by the week.
It is unclear how much money Sunderland boss Gus Poyet will have to spend when the January transfer window opens, but the Wearsiders are understood to be casting their net wide for young and hungry British players.
Sunderland’s long-term strategy is to add promising youngsters to their Under-21 squad.
French midfielder El-Hadji Ba, Greek forward Charis Mavrias and Dane David Moberg Karlsson all arrived on Wearside during the summer, while Sunderland failed to agree terms with highly-rated Dundee United centre-half John Souttar in October.
Whether a role in the Under-21s is a move that would interest either Baldwin or James remains to be seen, should Sunderland strengthen their interest.
Meanwhile, a strong Sunderland side outgunned Sam Collins’ Hartlepool United reserve side 5-0 in a closed doors match at the Academy of Light earlier this week.
Charis Mavrias netted twice for Sunderland, with Craig Lynch, Duncan Watmore and Liam Agnew also on target.