Sunderland Hand Professional Deals To Three Youngsters

Sunderland have handed professional deals to three young players.

As changes to the squad are made, and having released a slew of players yesterday, three players from Kevin Ball's under-18 side have been handed professional deals with the club.

Defenders Anthony Callaghan and Connor Oliver join striker Jordan Laidler in picking up their first professional contracts in the game.

Oliver joined the club two years ago as a 16-year old from Cramlington, and had trials at Leicester City, Bolton Wanderers, Hull City and St. Mirren among others before signing for us. Since then he has been a near ever-present at right-back for the under-18 team, making 21 appearances last season, scoring two goals. He also made four appearances for the reserve team, where he'll be expected to play more next season.

Callaghan joined the club in 2010, and the left back has gone on to dominate the left-back position at youth level, and has also gone on to make eight reserve team appearances last season. He's also an England international at under-16 level, and made his debut in the Victory Shield game against Wales several years ago.

Handing a contract to Laidler is somewhat more controversial. Undoubtedly talented, the North Shields born striker was top scorer for the youths last season with eight goals, and also made eight appearances for the reserve side.

Laidler found himself in a little bit of bother last season. Rumored to be a boyhood Newcastle fan, earlier in the season he tweeted that he thought Darren Bent made the right move in leaving the club. Fair enough, we've all got an opinion, but there was no need to add that he hoped Bent did well against Laidler's employers so we'd all be ticked off. You can see the tweets and read the story here.

Obviously the club feel this incident wasn't too bad, or more hopefully, the lad himself has grown up a little and realised the error of his ways.

Goalkeeper Joel Dixon has had his scholarship extended a further year, and will continue as part of Bally's youth team next season.

All three will move into the developmental squad for next season, and hope to follow in the footsteps of James McClean who was brought into it last year before a breakout season ultimately ending with him headed to Euro 2012 with Ireland.

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