Sunderland AFC’s Academy has welcomed its latest batch of new players - with 11 youngsters joining the scholar programme.
And the club’s sporting director, Lee Congerton, says bringing through quality, home-grown players is “very important” to the club.
The players have joined the full-time set up at the Academy as first year scholars, combining full-time football training with education as they study towards NVQ level 3 qualifications.
Michael Woud, Brandon Taylor, Alexander Storey, Cameron McCullouch, Joshua Maja, Oscar Krusnell, Owen Gamble, Elliot Embleton, Adam Bale, Joel Asoro and Christopher Allan have taken part in an induction day and met backroom staff.
Five young SAFC academy graduates have completed their two-year scholarship programme and will now move up to Robbie Stockdale’s development squad - Jordan Blinco, Michael Ledger, James Talbot, Ethan Robson and Rees Greenwood.
Meanwhile, highly-rated George Brady has also joined the development squad from Chelsea.
Sunderland AFC’s academy manager, Ged McNamee, said: “It is a very exciting time for players embarking on first-year scholarship.
“Of course it’s a huge adjustment for them going from playing football part-time to being part of a full-time professional set-up, but it’s a fantastic opportunity for them.
“They will have everything they need here to succeed in their desire to become professional players but it’s down to them to work hard, apply themselves and make the most of the chance they have been given.”
The club’s sporting director, Lee Congerton, said: “Bringing through quality, home-grown players is very important to us.
“We have brought in youngsters from further afield, including New Zealand and Sweden, but recruiting and developing players from within the North East region is key for us.
“The next couple of years will be massively important to these young players as they aim to progress to the first team and we wish them the very best of luck.”
Seven young players were released at the end of the season: Ryan Ellison, Ross Colquhoun, Jassem Sukar, Tom McNamee, Peter Burke, Joel Dixon and Andrew Cartwright.
A statement added: “The club wishes them the very best of luck in their future careers.”