Defender opens up about his Sunderland exit and reveals what would have kept him at Stadium of Light
The Garstang-born full-back penned a three-year deal at Northern Premier League club South Shields earlier this week after spending the majority of last season on loan at Mariners Park.
Hunter enhanced his reputation on South Tyneside by showing a level of maturity and confidence to cement his place in the Mariners line-up as they challenged for promotion into the National League North.
The coronavirus epidemic brought a premature end to Hunter’s time at the club and he returned to Sunderland with hopes of challenging for a place in Phil Parkinson’s first-team squad next season.
The former Liverpool academy player was offered a contract as the Black Cats looked to retain his services ahead of the return to League One action.
But Hunter has revealed that the contract offered was a one-year deal with an option of extending his time on Wearside for a further year.
He told The Echo: “I had a phone call with Phil Parkinson in the week that the club released the list of players that had received offers of new deals.
“I didn’t feel that the offer I received reflected what I was being told.
“I had a good season at South Shields, and I was playing consistently at a good level of senior football – so I was hoping for a longer contract at Sunderland.
“It has been reported in the press that they offered me a two-year deal, but it was a one-year with an option to extend it for a further year.
“In hindsight, if I had been offered a two-year deal, I probably would have signed it.
“I’ve loved my time at Sunderland and I would have loved a chance to stay for longer.”
Hunter hit back at suggestions on social media that he had taken a step back in joining South Shields.
The Mariners will look to continue their rapid rise up the non-league system next season as they look to move within two promotions of a place in the Football League.
Hunter believes that the regular football on offer can help him develop more than playing second fiddle to the senior players at Sunderland.
“It’s a tough one because of the position I play in,” he explained.
“Luke O’Nien has been one of the best players at Sunderland this year, and although the squad is smaller, I am not convinced I would have got an opportunity.
“Maybe I would have got that chance, who knows?
“I have had comments on social media saying that the move to South Shields is a step back.
“But I prefer to be more positive, I am playing men’s football at a good level and I think I have developed more at South Shields than I would have playing under-23s for another season.
“Hopefully that can continue during my time at the club.”