SPENNYMOOR have been dealt a blow in their preparations for the coming National League North campaign, with striker Paul Blackett moving to rivals South Shields.

The 25-year-old scored 12 goals in 30 appearances for Spennymoor last season after joining from Gateshead in November.

But Shields, who are preparing for their first season in National League North with former Middlesbrough and Sunderland midfielder Julio Arca at the helm, activated the release clause in Blackett's contract and the striker was keen to return to full-time football.

Spennymoor have now turned their attention to finding a replacement.

Jason Ainsley, head of football at Moors, said: “We would like to thank Paul for his efforts during the short time he was with us.

“His goals very nearly helped us get into the play-offs last season and we’re sorry to see him leave because not only is he a fantastic footballer but he’s a great lad as well.

“Unfortunately, with South Shields meeting his buy-out clause and Paul wanting to get back into full-time football, the management team felt that we could not stand in his way.

“We wish Paul every success at South Shields and in his future career, and now our attentions will turn to ensuring we find the right replacement to come into the club ahead of the new season.”

Blackett had a spell with Newcastle United as a youngster before establishing himself in non-league. He's also played for Blyth Spartans and Whitby.

The striker said: “This is a great place to be and I’m really happy to be part of it.

“People around the North East have looked at South Shields as one of the teams to keep an eye on for a while and I’ve been no different, so I’m very glad to be part of it now.

“I still feel quite young at 25, and it would be brilliant to be here for a long time and show everyone what I can do.

“I’ve only ever heard good things about the club, so once I knew there was interest, it was a no-brainer to join.

“Most games in this league are going to be a battle, and there are some very good footballing teams as well. As long as we give it everything, though, we’ll be absolutely fine and I’m confident we’ll be pushing towards the top end of the table.

“I feel like I know the league because I’ve played at this level for a few years, so I’m aiming to get off to a good start and get the confidence building from there.”

Blackett is Shields' third signing of the summer as Arca and club bosses prepare for a promotion push.

Arca said: “In Paul, we strongly feel we have someone who can bring plenty of goals to the team, and we’re delighted to add him to the squad.

“He has the ability to be one of our main forwards next season and has already proved what he can do at this level.

“He is at a good age to perform well and still improve, and we believe he will do really well for us.

“He’s someone who knows the league very well and we can’t wait to see him fit into the team.”