Meet new schoolboy stars

by Stuart Vose

We profile the youngsters set to go full-time in 2013-14.

Eight youngsters will take the next step of their budding careers when they join Sunderland’s under-18s in the summer.

The lucky lads will all commence two-year scholarships in the club’s Academy this July under the watchful eye of Ged McNamee and his staff.

Two of the players will be new to the area, with the other six all hailing from the north east.

We’ve profiled all the eight new boys below, along with comments from the club’s head of coaching, Elliott Dickman.

James Talbot
Big goalkeeper from Dublin in the Republic of Ireland who is currently playing with Home Farm. Reigning FAI Schoolboy of the Year.

Elliott: “James has been over a number of times and we were very impressed with what we saw. There were a number of big clubs chasing James, so he’s a fantastic signing for us and has great potential.”

Ryan Ellison
Right-back from Stockport who was a member of Manchester City’s Academy. Impressed during a trial period on Wearside and has already appeared for the Black Cats’ under-18s.

Elliott: “Our people were aware of Ryan, who came up for a trial. He ticks all the boxes for things we like at this football club. Like James, he’ll have a different challenge of moving away from home, but we will do all we can to make that transition as smooth as possible.”

Michael Ledger
Defender from Consett who can play on the right or in the middle. Has been with Sunderland since the age of eight.

Elliott: “Michael’s family have invested a lot of time getting him to our training sessions. He is in most days now so they deserve a pat on the back for being committed to us. Michael’s a quiet lad who does his talking on the pitch – he deserves this opportunity.”

Ross Colquhoun
Centre-back who hails from Washington and joined the club a couple of years ago. Like several others, has already seen game time at U18 level.

Elliott: “Ross is a great lad who has a fantastic attitude. He always gives 100%. Ross has had little setbacks during his time with the Academy in terms of what model he went on in the past – we have a hybrid model and a full-time model - but he worked his socks off to get on the full-time model and again deserves his opportunity.”

Reece Greenwood
Hailing from Winlaton, Reece can play in midfield or as a striker. Has been in the Academy since the age of 8 and worked his way through the ranks.

Elliott: “Reece has been with us for a long time and has good potential. He’s tidy on the ball and is ideal for the ‘number 10’ position which is how we like to play.”

Dylan McEvoy
Dylan is a central midfielder from Newcastle who is left-footed and loves joining the attack and scoring goals. Opted to remain with his junior club before entering the Academy aged 14.

Elliott: “Dylan has been on the radar of a number of clubs for a long time. He has a fantastic attitude, good work ethic and is a good addition to a good group of players. I’m looking forward to seeing how he progresses over the next few years.”

Ethan Robson
Midfielder from Chester-le-Street who is no stranger to youth-team watchers. Ethan has figured regularly this season and also made a couple of appearances during the 2011-12 campaign. Has also previously been on standby for England squads.

Elliott: Ethan has kicked on a lot over the last few years, which is a credit to him. He’s very much focused on being a professional footballer and possesses qualities and good attributes which have caught the eye of the England selectors. The fact that he’s been on their radar is a compliment to him and fantastic news for us.”

Jordan Blinco
Jordan hails from Durham and is a winger who can play on either flank. Joined on trial as an under-15 last season having previously worked with coach Craig Liddle at Darlington.

Elliott: “Jordan came in last season and I think he’s gone up another level since. He’s added goals to his game; eight or nine from a wide area which is great. He’s an introverted character who does his talking on the pitch and we’re looking forward to working with him.”