Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Burnley, Sheffield United and Sunderland are among the clubs targeting Hartlepool midfielder Josh Hawkes this summer but, according to TEAMtalk, the in-demand youngster could be on his way to Portugal instead.

The ball is most certainly in Hawkes’ court, then.

Does a dynamic young prospect born in Stockton-upon-Tees stay in his native north east and join a Sunderland side crying out for new signings?

Or does he try his hand on the continent instead and swap the modest Victoria Park surroundings for one of the most picturesque footballing arenas on the planet.

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TEAMtalk report that Hawkes is giving serious consideration to joining Primeira Liga giants Braga in what would be one of the most eye-catching transfers of the summer.

Though it is not just Sunderland who would be left disappointed.

Burnley and Sheffield United are keen on the talented Englishman too, as are Middlesbrough, Huddersfield Town, Hull City and Barnsley.

Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

If it is regular first-team football that Hawkes wants, a move to the Stadium of Light possibly makes the most sense – and not just because the step up from non-league to League One would be much easier to handle than an immediate move to the top-flight.

Sunderland released Ethan Robson and Duncan Watmore on Tuesday night, while Chris Maguire could also go if he does not sign a new deal.

And Hawkes, who found the net nine times in 2018/19, could perhaps be the goalscoring midfielder that the Black Cats need.

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

In other news, Tottenham target Geoffrey Kondogbia reportedly dreams of England move