SUNDERLAND have been linked with interest in Glasgow Rangers’ outstanding young goalkeeping prospect Robby McCrorie.
The 14-year is also believed to have attracted the attention of Manchester City and Manchester United.
All three Premier League clubs are aware that the fallen Scottish Premier League giants – relegated to Division Three over the summer because of financial problems – will struggle to hold on to their emerging prospects in the face of cash-rich suitors.
And they are running the rule over the Scotland Under 16 goalkeeper, who has already trained with Rangers’ first team and is predicted to have a big future ahead of him.
Rangers would want to keep him but might find it impossible to turn down generous offers.
Sunderland are currently well-served in the goalkeeping department with Belgian international Simon Mignolet in outstanding form and Republic of Ireland number one Keiren Westwood in reserve.
Beyond that, the Black Cats have highly-rated England Under 19 stopper Jordan Pickford, who has been a regular in Kevin Ball’s Barclays Premier Under 21 Development squad this season.
Last season, they had even more of an embarrassment of riches with former British record signing goalkeeper, £9m Craig Gordon on their books.
But while O’Neill is happy with his options in the short term, the club is always planning for the future.
And if McCrorie is rated a good enough prospect, it would be sound business to try recruiting him now, before he makes more of a reputation for himself and attracts more interest and a bigger potential transfer fee.
H A very young Sunderland U18 side enjoyed a comfortable 2-1 win over Bury in their friendly at the Academy yesterday.
The only over-age player included in the home team was Billy Knott, who played for a pre-arranged 45 minutes and came through unscathed following his lengthy injury. The midfielder showed several classy touches.
The first half was largely uneventful but Jordan Blencoe went close, forcing the keeper to save well just before the break.
There was several changes made at half-time but it was a triallist striker, who played for the whole game, that caught the eye with a tremendous shot that crashed against the bar from outside the box when play restarted.
The Wearsiders, who had been more dangerous throughout, finally took the lead on 70 minutes. Attacking full-back Tom Robson, who got forward continuously to great effect, reached the line to cut back for Jake Orrell – from the Under-16s – to look up and sidefoot into the far corner for a coolly-taken goal.
This was followed ten minutes later with a decisive second goal by Kieran Martin. The midfielder curled a brilliant strike over the keeper into the far top corner from the left side from 25 yards out.
The Shakers grabbed their consolation goal in a breakaway one minute from time, too late to influence the final outcome of the match.
Sunderland: Maddison (Burke 46), McCarthy, Colquhoun, Beadling (McNamee 46), T. Robson, Blencoe (Greenwood 46), Agnew (E. Robson 46), Martin, Trialist, Knott (Orrell 46), Triallist.