The club would like to congratulate Academy forward Harry Gardiner after he signed a two-and-a-half-year scholarship with Sunderland AFC.

Harry joined the SSFC Academy in the summer of 2020 and excelled during his short time in claret and blue.

During a difficult period as football grappled with the many challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic, Harry’s talent and attitude shone through as he made a fine start to life at 1st Cloud Arena.

Those qualities caught the attention of a number of professional clubs including Sunderland AFC, who offered him an eight-week trial before signing him up on a long-term basis.

We would like to wish Harry all the very best for what we are sure will be a bright future in the game.

Academy manager Wess Brown said: “We were only a short part of Harry’s football journey but what a pleasure it was to be the final stepping stone on his journey to a professional club.

“We are very happy to see Harry reach another level, but on the other hand sad to lose such a great player and person.

“The first time I watched Harry I knew he would be perfect for our scholarship programme.

“He is a quiet lad on and off the pitch but his intelligence shouts louder than any player I’ve seen for a long time.

“Harry has a bright future and has excelled in our environment, and I hope he does the same at Sunderland AFC.

“We wish him all the luck in the world on his new venture.”

Harry said: “I’ve absolutely loved it at South Shields.

“It’s a family club with so much togetherness running through it.

“The coaches at both academy and first-team level were great with me, as were all of my team-mates.

“It’s a great club and I’ll definitely get to as many games as I can in the future and keep in touch as I loved every minute of it.

“You always knew there was a pathway to the first-team too because the first-team coaching staff would regularly watch us train, which always gave us that added boost.

“I feel like I’ve improved so much as a player as a result of my time at South Shields, particularly with my knowledge of the game, and I can’t thank everyone at the club enough for making my time there so valuable and enjoyable.

“I’m excited to start my journey with Sunderland as they were my boyhood club and to now get the opportunity to play for them is a special moment for me.”

Highly-rated Sunderland youngster Bali Mumba has joined South Shields on loan.

The 18-year-old – who made his first-team debut for the Black Cats in May 2018 – will spend the rest of the season at Mariners Park.

Mumba, from South Shields, could make his first appearance for his hometown club in Saturday’s league trip to Bamber Bridge.

South Shields joint manager Graham Fenton said: “We’re delighted to have someone of Bali’s calibre joining us for the final push in the league season.

“He is very highly-regarded at Sunderland having been regularly involved in the first-team squad over the last two years, and we’d like to thank all the members of staff at Sunderland who have enabled this to happen.

“Bali will give us undoubted real quality and athleticism, and I’m sure he will gain massively from the experience with us across the two-month period.

“We’re looking forward to getting him started.”

Mumba made his debut for Sunderland as a 16-year-old in May 2018, coming on as a substitute in the Black Cats’ victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers.

He was handed the captain’s armband when he came on, becoming the club’s youngest-ever captain in the process.

He has now made 10 appearances for the Black Cats’ first-team, while he has also represented England at Under-16s, Under-17s, Under-18s and Under-19s levels.

Mumba will link up at Mariners Park with Sunderland team-mate Jordan Hunter, who is also with Shields for the rest of the season.

The club is delighted to announce that Jordan Hunter’s loan from Sunderland has been extended until the end of the season.

Hunter has performed superbly since joining on loan from the Black Cats in August.

He has scored once in 15 appearances and been a key part of the team’s excellent defensive record so far this season.

Shields fans can now look forward to watching the right-back for the remainder of the campaign.

Joint manager Graham Fenton said: “Everyone at the club is over the moon that we’ve managed to secure an extension of Jordan’s loan until the end of the season.

“It’s safe to say that Jordan’s performances have definitely warranted us acquiring his services for an extended period and I know he has quickly become a fans’ favourite here.

“We would like to thank Sunderland AFC and particularly Kevin Ball for allowing this to happen and we look forward to the relationship between the two clubs developing and flourishing further over the next few years.”