MIDDLESBROUGH look set to beat Premier League clubs to the capture of highly-rated Swindon Town defender Harley Hunt.

The 16-year-old, who broke into the Swindon first team last season and made three first team appearances, is expected to initially link up with Boro's academy but the coaching and recruitment team on Teesside have high hopes for the youngster.

Aston Villa and Southampton were both keen on Hunt but Boro's vision for the teenager's path to the first team and their recent record with the development of young players convinced the youngster a move to the Riverside was the best next step.


Jonathan Woodgate is said to have spoken to the defender personally, report the Mail, who say Boro will pay an initial fee of £500,000.

Hunt is comfortable in a back three or four and can also play in the centre of midfield. He impressed for Swindon's youth team last season, who turned heads by reaching the last eight of the FA Youth Cup, knocking out Sunderland and Manchester United on the way.

Boro are currently well stocked in the centre of defence, with Rav van den Berg, Matt Clarke, Dael Fry and Darragh Lenihan all jostling for places.

But Boro believe Hunt can, in time, make the step up to the first team, and head coach Carrick has shown repeatedly that he's willing to give young players a senior opportunity.