FORMER Darlington manager Martin Gray has struck a deal to provide pathways for players from his academy to progress into the youth ranks at Middlesbrough.

Gray, 49, currently runs the Martin Gray Football Academy which offers professional football coaching at schools and academies around the North-East.

Boro has one of the best reputations in the country for it's youth product over the years bringing through the likes of Dael Fry and Marcus Tavernier recently and it now seems that the club are keen to explore more avenues of delving into emerging talent around the region.

Gray was formerly a player for Sunderland, Oxford United and Darlington. He went on to manage the Quakers taking them from the Northern League to the National League North.

He has since gone on to become a manager of York City and play a sporting director role at Shildon.

Gray said: “I'm really proud to be working alongside Middlesbrough Football Club which is a club that I have supported personally during my youth and still do to this day.

“I am keen to see the opportunities which MGFA students will be given as a result of the partnership.

“With Craig (Liddle) and I being ex-team mates, I hope we are able to offer our later developing students the same opportunities we were given.

“Working alongside Middlesbrough Football Club and using both their outstanding facilities alongside our own I hope we will be able to afford these students the same excellent opportunities.”

As Middlesbrough approach the beginning of pre season in just a few weeks time, the partnership with the Martin Gray Football Academy could enhance the talent of their youth teams who have had a number of players sign professional deals.

Six youth team players have put pen-to-paper over the summer including Josh Wells, Isiah Cornet, Jack Robinson, Cain Sykes, Max Metcalfe and Jeremy Sivi.

Boro Academy manager Craig Liddle said: “We have an excellent track record in terms of bringing youngsters into our Academy and developing them as players, and this partnership can only benefit us in terms of identifying young talented individuals.

“Martin has a wealth of experience as a player and a coach, and the MGDA attracts youngsters from all around the region.”