Promising forward becomes the latest to leave Sunderland's academy as Middlesbrough swoop
Promising forward Cole Kiernan has become the latest player to leave Sunderland’s academy.
The 18-year-old scholar has been snapped up by local rivals Middlesbrough, who have signed him to professional terms.
Kiernan scored five goals from Sunderland’s struggling U18 side last season, and also made his senior debut in the 3-2 EFL Trophy win over Grimsby Town in October.
Middlesbrough’s Head of Academy, Craig Liddle, said that the club had been tracking Kiernan for a number of years and are ‘delighted’ to have signed him.
“Cole was a player we wanted to sign a few years ago, and we’re delighted to be able to bring him to the club now,” Liddle said.
“We’ve been following his progress and his development at Sunderland, and when the opportunity came about to sign him on a professional contract we were keen to do so.
“Cole joins a number of our other young players who have progressed through our Academy in signing pro contracts this summer, and we’re looking forward to working with them all when the new season starts.”
Sunderland’s academy manager Paul Reid left the club earlier this week, with Sunderland supporters left hugely concerned about its category one status after a raft of departures since Madrox’s takeover of the club.
A number of talented players have opted to leave the club before signing professional terms, while the ownership have also opted to sanction the sale of Bali Mumba to Norwich City.
Chief executive Jim Rodwell said that the club are committed to maintaining Category One status, and that a key part of the remit for Reid’s replacement would be to stop the drain of talent.
“Part of the remit for the new academy manager will be exactly that,” Rodwell said.
"We’ve got to do more to try and keep hold of these guys.
"It is difficult but there are things I think we can do."
Kiernan’s departure further underlines the scale of the rebuilding challenge ahead.
A raft of youngsters were released after a challenging campaign in which neither were able to win a league fixture.
With Benji Kimpioka and Brandon Taylor yet to commit to new contracts, both squads are perilously thin as it stands.