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Former Sunderland defender & ex-manager of target Jordan Hugill on what the striker would offer

With continued speculation linking us to Preston North End forward Jordan Hugill, we caught up with Sunderland cult hero Darren Williams to have a brief chat about the player he once managed at Whitby Town.

Darren Williams of Arsenal Photo By Ben Radford/Getty Images

It would be fair to say that former Sunderland defender Darren Williams knows one or two things about what it takes to become a success on Wearside.

Having arrived here from York City in 1996, Williams played 200 games over the course of eight turbulent years and was well liked for his non-stop effort and appreciation of the fanbase.

After leaving Sunderland, he took in spells at Cardiff, Hartlepool, Gateshead and Dundee before retiring to the lower leagues. In 2011 he was handed the role of player-manager at non-league Whitby Town and it was here where his forward line included a 20-year-old Jordan Hugill - a player who looks set to become a Sunderland player over the coming weeks, if rumours in the local press are to be believed.

Hugill’s best spell of his career so far came last season playing for Simon Grayson at fellow Championship side Preston North End, finishing the campaign with thirteen goals.

Newcastle United v Preston North End - Sky Bet Championship
Hugill scored an impressive goal last season against Newcastle.
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

The former Seaham Red Star and Consett forward was offered a trial in 2009 by Sunderland but missed out on the opportunity due to an injury, and unfortunately for both parties nothing materialised down the line.

Hugill instead passed through a number of non-league clubs, spending a short amount of time playing for Darren Williams at Whitby Town - his last semi-professional stint before being offered a full-time deal by football league side Port Vale.

Speaking exclusively to, Williams offered up some thoughts on the young forward and what he could potentially bring to Simon Grayson’s side ahead of a tough season in the Championship.

Port Vale v Plymouth Argyle - FA Cup Third Round
Hugill has risen through the leagues since turning out for Whitby Town five years ago.
Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

When asked about whether he felt Hugill would be able to handle the pressure of playing regularly in front of an expectant crowd, Williams remarked:

I think that he has the right mentality. It is a tough place (the Stadium of Light) and it can be very daunting when it’s at full capacity.

The one thing that the fans will always do is get behind you and give you a chance to show what you can do. The fans are fantastic and if you show that you want to work hard, they take you in as family.

Williams feels unlucky that he didn’t get to use the striker more often whilst he was the man in charge at Whitby, as an unfortunate injury cut short their time together.

He started a game for me and scored in it, but then he got a nasty injury and had to come off in that same game really early on, which was a shame.

He's a great lad to work with - he’s very eager to do well, listens, learns and takes on board what you want from him.

Hugill has been somewhat of a late bloomer in the game and it was perhaps only last season when he began to show exactly what he was capable of, bagging thirteen goals for Simon Grayson’s former side Preston.

Williams always knew he was destined for more than just non-league football.

You could see he had ability to do well in football.

With his physical presence, Jordan always caused problems for defenders.

Sunderland v Charlton  x
“He will know what's required - passion, hardwork & desire” said Williams on his former player Hugill.

Both men were born and raised on Teeside, and understanding the passion of fans in the North East is something Williams feels Hugill will have no problems with - just like he didn’t as a 19-year-old back in 1996.

He will know what’s required - passion, hard work and desire.

Those three traits are a gimme - they should be a part of everyone's game at Sunderland, without doubt. When you've done that you earn the right to play and show your ability - if Jordan does that, I wish him well and I hope he does us proud.

Rumours that Hugill will join back up with Grayson this summer have rumbled on for a number of weeks now and in the event that it does, a glowing reference from a Sunderland cult hero that knows exactly what he is about should give some comfort to any of our supporters who aren’t exactly sure what the former-Gateshead forward could potentially offer us.

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