SUNDERLAND'S academy boss has told of the club's excitement after the capture of three former Chelsea, Liverpool and Southampton youngsters.

The Black Cats have this morning confirmed the signings of Ivan Struk, Bayley Hester and Marcus Neill to the club's scholarship programme.

Struck, a combative midfielder, initially joined Sunderland on trial at the start of the 2023/24 season. After impressing on Wearside, a pre-registration agreement was reached with Chelsea.

He represented both Sunderland's Under-16s and 18s last season before suffering an injury. The Ukrainian moved to Wearside and linked up with the team once more earlier this summer.


Hester signed on a pre-registration agreement from Southampton in January.

He can play at full-back or as a winger and has represented England in the youth age groups.

Neill, described by Sunderland as an "exciting forward with excellent goal-scoring ability" spent several years in Liverpool's academy.

He has played for Sunderland's Under-16s and 18s since his pre-registration and is also an Australian youth international.

Robin Nicholls, academy manager, said: “We are excited to be adding three players from further afield to the group. Throughout the season our academy recruitment team, led by Ian Archbold, do a fantastic job in highlighting talented players from other clubs who they think could fit the Sunderland style of play and add something to our group.

“When we became aware that Bayley, Marcus and Ivan would be available we immediately invited them to the North East to assess how they would settle in the environment and give them the chance to see what we had to offer here at the Academy.

“We are delighted that all three have chosen Sunderland as the next step in their journey and we are excited to help them fulfil their potential here at the club. I am sure those fans who follow the academy will be excited to see the boys in action over the next few seasons."