South Shields boost promotion hopes with signing of ex-Sunderland and Inverness striker

South Shields have bolstered their squad ahead of a vital few weeks with the signing of former Inverness Caledonian Thistle striker Connor Bell.
Joint managers Lee Picton and Graham Fenton.Joint managers Lee Picton and Graham Fenton.
Joint managers Lee Picton and Graham Fenton.

The forward has been training with Shields over recent weeks and has now received international clearance to complete his move to Mariners Park.

The 22-year-old was most recently on the books of Scottish Championship side Greenock Morton, who he departed last month.

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He came through the ranks of Sunderland’s academy before spells at Rotherham United, Wrexham, Rhyl, Swiss side Servette, Inverness and Greenock Morton.

Bell is excited about the challenge ahead at Shields after being impressed by the ambition of joint managers Lee Picton and Graham Fenton.

He said: “I had a bit of interest elsewhere, but I got in touch with the managers here and you could tell straightaway how ambitious they were for the club.

“They invited me to training so I saw the quality of the lads and I’ve been to the last few games.

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“With the ambition of the fans, the managers and the players, you can tell it’s a club that’s going places.

“It was a no-brainer, really.”

Bell won the Scottish Challenge Cup with Inverness last season, playing in the final against Dumbarton.

He scored seven goals for the club last term before moving on to Greenock Morton.

The striker spoke with former Sunderland team-mate Jordan Blinco - once on the books of the Mariners - before signing on the dotted line.

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He added: “I was away from home for a long time playing football but I always liked to keep an eye on how all the local teams were doing.

“One of my friends, Jordan Blinco, was here a couple of years ago and he only had good things to say about the place.

“He said it was a club going places and it has kicked on again since he left.

“He told me about how the managers were and I got the same first impression when I met them.

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“It’s a club that’s going places and I’ve found that already.”

Bell is available to make his Shields debut away to Bamber Bridge on Saturday as they look to get their promotion bid back on track after three games without a win.

He insists he is ready to play whenever he is called upon.

He said: “I became a free agent in January but I’ve been doing my own bits and I’ve been training with the lads here, so I feel that I’m ready to go whenever the managers want to stick me in.

“It killed me having to watch the game on Saturday because I thought we were unlucky.

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“Hopefully this weekend the gaffers will take a chance on me and I’ll do the business.”