FORMER Sunderland striker Stephen Elliott has been named as the new head of Darlington’s academy.

Elliott, who enjoyed a successful professional career that saw him claim two Championship titles with Sunderland and win nine international caps with the Republic of Ireland after starting as a trainee at Manchester City, replaces Tony McMahon, who left Darlington to join the coaching staff at Scunthorpe United earlier this summer.

The 37-year-old has embarked on a coaching career since retiring from playing in 2017, and has gained his UEFA A licence.

“I’m delighted with the opportunity to work for the football club and help progress the academy,” said Elliott. “I’ve been coaching for the last six or seven years in various areas and at different standards, and as well as that I’ve been doing my coaching badges.

“I’ve tried to step back since I finished playing and watch a lot of football. I’ve been trying to learn about the game from the outside rather than being in the middle of the pitch. With what I’ve learned, and looking at some of the coaches I’ve worked for and players I’ve played with, I think I can bring a lot to the academy lads.

“I can help them progress and hopefully get as many as possible to a position where they can maybe train with the first team and go on and play. That’s the long-term aim anyway.”

Elliott, who also played for the likes of Wolves, Norwich and Hearts as well as representing Sunderland, has had a couple of coaching roles in his homeland, and has spent the last four years working with youngsters on Wearside.

“I moved back to Ireland after I finished playing professionally, and I helped coach the Under-19s at Shamrock Rovers and was player-coach at Drogheda,” he said, in an interview with Darlington’s website. “I was working with the attacking players while I was still playing part-time over there.

“Over the last three or four years, I’ve coached full-time with Improtech Soccer, a company based in the North-East that mainly look after young kids and schools. A lot of that time, I was based at Sunderland College, working with a similar age group to the lads I’m going to be working with now, so I know what’s expected.”