Alex Gilliead was born in the North Eastern town of Shotley Bridge, just 33 miles from Newcastle. And he has been part of The Magpies’ academy since 2011, emerging as a great hope in an area that has not produced as many exciting young prospects as it really should have done in recent years.
But, before Gilliead has even made his first-team debut in Newcastle United colours, could the 21-year-old winger be seen in a Sunderland shirt?
According to The Chronicle, Newcastle’s bitter North East rivals have watched Gilliead in action on loan at League One Bradford City this season. And Sunderland, like Hull City and Millwall, are keen to sign the youngster on loan during the January transfer window.
Gilliead has impressed with The Bantams, scooping the club’s Player of the Month award in September. And with his loan spell set to expire at the turn of the year, Sunderland obviously believe that the 6ft 2ins wideman has the talent to play at a higher level.
New Black Cats boss Chris Coleman knows that he will need to be clever in the January window with a lack of funds at his disposal. Loan deals for talented youngsters with a point to prove, then, could be the order of the day.
And with Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez keen for Gilliead to get some more first-team experience under his belt, will the Tyneside giants overlook this most hostile of rivalries and send one of the club’s most exciting prospects to their nearby arch enemy?