MIDDLESBROUGH have swelled their academy ranks with the signing of teenage defenders Sam Stubbs and Djed Spence.

Stubbs, who is the 19-year-old son of former Everton and Celtic central defender, Alan, joins Boro’s youth set-up from Wigan Athletic, having previously completed loan spells at League Two side Crewe Alexandra and National League club AFC Fylde.

Spence, who is 17, moves to Teesside from Fulham after successfully completing a trial at the end of last season that saw him play for Boro Under-23s against Newcastle.

Boro have handed first professional contracts to midfielder Connor Malley and goalkeepers Brad James and Zach Hemming. They have also offered short-term contracts to the end of August to defender James Cook and midfielder Amadou Sylla.

Mikael Soisalo has left the academy, joining Belgian side Zulte Waregem, while Boro have released Tom Brewitt, Liam Cooke, Matthew Elsdon, Liam Hegarty, Jakub Sinior, Kieran Storey, Robbie Tinkler and Jay Wilson.

The Teessiders have offered scholarships to 12 players, including a number of locally-born prospects.

The new arrivals are: Albero Balde (Spain), Isiah Cornet (France), Harold Essien (Manchester), Harry Flatters (Huntingdon), Isaac Fletcher (Middlesbrough), Joseph Gibson (Bishop Auckland), Harry Green (Stockton), Hayden Hackney (Middlesbrough), Terry Stephenson (Papua New Guinea), Cain Sykes (Sunderland), Andrew Wilson (Darlington) and Nathan Wood (Middlesbrough).

Meanwhile, Chelsea youngster Lewis Baker has signed a season-long long deal with Leeds United after failing to impress with Middlesbrough last season.

Baker, an England Under-21 international, moved to Teesside amid much fanfare last summer, but made just six starts and six substitute appearances in the whole of last season’s Championship campaign.

He did not make a single start under Tony Pulis, who opted not to pursue a new loan arrangement when his previous deal expired in May.