Blackpool have signed two players from Sunderland's development squad, Connor Oliver and David Ferguson, on 18-month deals with the option for a further 12 months.
Ferguson joined Sunderland in 2012 from non-league Darlington, following hot on the heels of his former Darlington manager Craig Liddle who joined the Academy of Light as a development coach. A left back by trade, he couldn't manage to make the breakthrough at his boyhood club, with an unused substitute appearance against Tottenham in the final game of the 2012-13 season the nearest he got to making a first-team appearance.
He had a spell on-loan at Boston United last season but the emergence of Tom Robson further restricted his chances of making the grade with Sunderland.
Speaking about the move, Ferguson explained how keen he was to join Blackpool;
It's a move that I really wanted to happen so hopefully I can hit the ground running. I came here for a week in November and everyone was welcoming, it was a good environment to be in.
An academy graduate, Oliver made an impression with Sunderland's u18 team with a spell as vice-captain in 2011-12 but suffered a long-term injury during the 2012-13 season. A versatile player who can play in defence or midfield, he never got a look in with the Sunderland first team, although he did make his league debut during a short loan spell with Hartlepool United last season. That lack of first team football was the major factor in Oliver seeking to leave Sunderland, according to the player;
I've been at Sunderland six years and it was a good experience, but I wanted to come out and get some first team games. It's a good opportunity for me, so I've got to take it with both hands.
The pair join former Sunderland midfielder Lee Clark at Blackpool, who is now the Tangerines' manager and Sunderland cult hero Nyron Nosworthy who recently signed for the Bloomfield Road club.