Gateshead want more new faces after former Sunderland and Hartlepool United defender agrees deal

The National League newcomers have completed their first signing of the summer and are working hard to add more new faces to their ranks.

Sunday, 12th June 2022, 10:36 am

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<p>Former Sunderland and Hartlepool United defender Kenton Richardson has joined National League club Gateshead</p>

Former Sunderland and Hartlepool United defender Kenton Richardson has joined National League club Gateshead

Sunderland defender Kenton Richardson has become Gateshead’s first signing of the summer as Mike Williamson and Ian Watson work on a number of deals ahead of their return to the National League.

The former Hartlepool United player joined the Black Cats in August 2020 and spent time out on loan at Notts County and Spennymoor Town during the last two seasons.

Richardson agreed to become the first of what Gateshead hope will be several summer additions as they prepare to take on the likes of Notts County, Wrexham and Oldham Athletic in non-league’s top tier next season.

After putting pen-to-paper at the International Stadium, the defender explained why he agreed to join Gateshead and admitted getting the deal done early was “a weight off his shoulders”.

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He told the club website: “For a lot of players that have just come out of clubs, they haven’t got a contract anywhere, it’s a time where you worry a little bit.

“Getting that interest early and getting it over the line is a weight off your shoulders.

“When I played against Gateshead last season, you could see they were the best team in the league, they deserved to win the league.

“You saw that togetherness and it was just something I wanted to be part of.”

Williamson’s own future has been the subject of speculation and there has been interest from elsewhere - but the former Newcastle United defender and assistant manager Watson are fully focused on their preparations for the new season with Gateshead and will press on with further deals that are in the pipeline.

Just over a month has passed since the Heed celebrated their National League North title win and there have been several departures during that time with defenders Alex Nicholson and Kieren Aplin and young winger Nelson Ogbewe all released.

Midfielder Danny Greenfield has returned to the National League North with Spennymoor Town and top goalscorer Macaulay Langstaff joined National League rivals Notts County after the Magpies activated a release clause inserted into the contract he signed last season.

The departure of former Newcastle United Under-23s captain Jack Hunter was confirmed on Saturday after he accepted an offer to join FC Halifax Town.

Loan quartet Taylor Charters, Matty Jacob, Connor Malley and Filip Marschall have all returned to their parent clubs and although the Echo understands Gateshead retain an interest in the latter, significant progress has been made on a possible loan deal for another highly-rated goalkeeper from a Premier League club.

The departure of Langstaff has left a considerable hole in the Heed squad after the former York City forward plundered his way to 32 goals last season and claimed the club and National League North player of the year awards.

Gateshead striker Macaulay Langstaff moved to Notts County for an undisclosed fee in June 2022.

But the fee received from the sale is expected to be put to good use over the coming weeks with two forwards being targeted.

Interest in former Hartlepool United and Boston United striker Danny Elliott has cooled recently but talks with one other attacking player have progressed well and hopes are high that deal could be finalised over the coming week.

Several other options are being considered with Williamson and Watson keen to bring in players that will buy into the philosophy and togetherness that brought them success with a tight-knit squad last season.

The Echo also understands one key member of Williamson’s squad has rejected a move into the EFL and is keen to remain at the International Stadium to help the club re-establish themselves in non-league’s top tier.

Meanwhile, the Heed have also confirmed another three pre-season friendlies.

Gateshead will kick off their pre-season when they face Sunderland in a 60-minute behind closed doors fixture at the Academy of Light on Saturday 2nd July (11am kick-off).

A previously announced visit to Northern Premier League East neighbours Dunston UTS comes on Tuesday 12th July and Williamson’s men will then head to former National League North rivals Spennymoor Town on the following Saturday.

A hectic week is rounded off three days later when the Heed make the short trip for what is now an annual visit to Hebburn Town.