Sunderland are expected to make free agent Kenton Richardson their next summer signing but his former Hartlepool United teammate Josh Hawkes is unlikely to join, according to the Sunderland Echo.
While Phil Parkinson and co are operating in perhaps the most difficult transfer market in modern history, the Black Cats should be commended for completing a string of eye-catching deals over recent weeks.
In Remi Matthews, Bailey Wright and Aiden O’Brien, Sunderland have signed three proven League One talents without spending a penny in transfer fees.
An underachieving academy, meanwhile, has been reinforced with the additions of Bobby Beaumont, Sam Wilding and Vinnie Steels while Morgan Feeney, a former Everton youth captain, has also put pen to paper.
The next, it seems, will be a 21-year-old who is expected to make the 30-mile journey from Hartlepool to Sunderland.
Richardson is a free agent after his contract at Victoria Park expired. The right-back should initially replace Norwich newbie Bali Mumba in Elliot Dickman’s U23s, but might also be used to pad out Parkinson’s first-team during a gruelling, 46-game league season.
The Echo adds that dynamic goal-scoring midfielder Hawkes will not be reuniting with Richardson on Wearside, however.
The compensation fee that would need to be paid to Hartlepool appears to have scuppered the deal, with Sunderland under more pressure than ever to keep their finances in check.