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

Sunderland are interested in signing Kenton Richardson, Josh Hawkes and former Burnley striker Will Harris but, according to the Echo, their pursuit of a trio of free-agents have hit the buffers of late.

Before the global health crisis reared it’s ugly head and turned the world upside down, the Black Cats were planning to make some much-needed investment in an academy system which has been ignored for far too long.

Sunderland’s Category One academy should be a source of pride on Wearside.

Liverpool 2013-14 Runners-Up XI: Where Are They Now?

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Liverpool 2013-14 Runners-Up XI: Where Are They Now?
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But, while the North East giants have few problems when it comes to producing exciting young talent, keeping hold of them is another matter altogether.

Under 18 stars Joe Hugill and Logan Pye have already departed for Manchester United this summer, while Liverpool, Arsenal, Leeds and Middlesbrough have picked the flesh from Sunderland’s youth ranks in recent months.

Progress does appear to be in the planning, however.

Sunderland are looking to bring in some fresh blood at long last, while the much-maligned academy manager Paul Reid was handed his P45 at the end of June.

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

The Echo, however, points out that, with recruitment staff having been placed on furlough, moves to bring in former Hartlepool duo Richardson and Hawkes, plus highly-rated forward Harris, have stalled.

The same publication reported a few weeks ago that Harris had been told that he would be handed a contract at Sunderland after an impressive trial period. As it stands, however, the one-time Burnley starlet is still stuck in limbo.

“Kenton and Josh Hawkes will leave the club,” Hartlepool manager David Challinor told The Mail, explaining why the Sunderland-linked duo opted to depart.

“The situation with Kenton is he wants to go somewhere where he can play every week, that’s important to him.

“Hawkesy has been told there are other avenues for him to explore. If he moves elsewhere then there will be compensation involved and we will get a fee.”

Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

In other news, Report: Aston Villa could sign two exciting teens, including Dortmund-linked Bundesliga starlet