Sunderland have today confirmed that young defender Michael Ledger has left the club on a permanent basis in order to join ambitious Nottoden FK, who play in the second flight of Norwegian football.
In a statement on Nottoden’s official website, the club announced that Ledger has signed a two-year deal and has joined the club at their Marbella training camp this week.
The Consett-born academy product has made 11 appearances this season whilst on loan at Hartlepool United, but recently has found playing time hard to come by due to injury problems and leaves the cash-strapped County Durham club with their best wishes.
Prior to joining ‘Pools, Ledger spent a decent stint out in Norway with Viking FK under the tutelage of English manager Ian Burchnall, who was kind enough to speak with Roker Report last summer about how the loan spell worked out and his admiration for his abilities.
When the news broke last week via the Sunderland Echo that the Academy of Light product was in talks with Notodden, we spoke to Ian Burchnall - Ledger’s manager when he played for fellow Norwegian side Viking FK - who gave us the lowdown on the deal and what the future holds for the defender.
On how the deal came about...
IB: I don’t know all the details about how it happened but I know that Michael was keen to go back to Norway again to play. Several clubs in Norway contacted me for references and to know about Michael’s situation, as although he came in to Viking at a difficult time he did well in the time he was there.
Notodden were a club that were really interested in him - they’re newly promoted into the OBOS league and are a small but progressive club, and will probably give Michael a good platform to develop. In my opinion he will do well out there, he has a great attitude and good qualities as a player!
On why it’s a good move for him...
IB: I think it’s a very mature and smart path from Michael. The importance of staying in full time football is key. Also Scandinavia as a platform is great, as the technical qualities of the league are better than the lower leagues in England and the environment and facilities are very good. It is also a league which is scouted heavily by clubs in Germany and Holland among others, so it’s a good shop window to perform and step back up to better European leagues.
On what his best position is...
IB: In terms of position I believe he is better as a central defender. He is comfortable on the ball and has many good defensive qualities, I think he can play right back but depends on what the coach would want. His defensive qualities are probably better than his offensive so it depends on the system he is in.
On why moving abroad is better than staying at Sunderland...
IB: I think it’s a good move for him. Sometimes you have to take a step out of your comfort zone. To move abroad and play is a brave move, and also one which shows he is willing to go and do something different to succeed.
Of course it has been a difficult season at Sunderland and with such uncertainty I think securing a short term future when you know you will play first team football and develop is important. But if I know Michael like I do I am sure one day he will want to be back wearing the ed and white of Sunderland as I know his goal was to succeed there. But, this will be a new challenge on his pathway to his end goal, I think.