'One of our best players': South Shields set to pip Sunderland to defender's signature
Defender poised to turn down Black Cats contract to join non-league side
Jordan Hunter looks set to reject the chance to stay at Sunderland – and sign for South Shields instead.
The Echo understands the full-back is on the verge of putting pen to paper on a three-year deal with the Northern Premier League side in another blow for the Black Cats.
Hunter, who spent last season on loan at Shields and won their Player of the Season award, had been expected to remain at Sunderland after they offered him a two-year deal.
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But the 20-year-old, available on a free transfer after the expiry of his Sunderland contract, is keen to play first-team football and believes the opportunities and security Shields can provide him will help further his career.
South Shields joint-manager Graham Fenton confirmed they were hopeful of concluding a deal for the Liverpudlian.
He said: “Jordan was one of our best players last season, so we are hopeful of getting a deal finalised in the next couple of days.”
The Echo understands Hunter has been offered a three-year deal at Shields on less money than he was offered by Sunderland.
It is the second time in a matter of months that the non-league side have signed a player who Sunderland had offered a contract to, with Dutch defender Woutar Verstraaten opting to reject a contract offer with the professional side and instead extend his stay at Mariners Park.
Speaking back in January, Hunter revealed he was hoping to remain at Sunderland but was impressed with the ambition and progress of the Mariners.
He said: “I wouldn’t be surprised if you see South Shields in the National League and pushing for a place in League Two.
“In an ideal world I would stay at Sunderland, but of course I would be open to staying at South Shields.”
The news is a further blow to the Under-23s, who suffered a torrid season on the pitch. They are now left with just half a dozen players, while Benji Kimpioka has yet to sign a contract offer.
Cole Kiernan has joined Middlesbrough, teenage talent Bali Mumba is poised to complete a move to Norwich City and academy manager Paul Reid left his post last month.