MIDDLESBROUGH look set to continue their productive start to the summer transfer window with the capture of Harley Hunt, while Sunderland can now crack on with their business with Regis Le Bris in place and a week into his new job.

Boro's imminent capture of Hunt and Sunderland's plans feature in this week's North East Notes, but we'll start with Newcastle after this week's arrival of Paul Mitchell.


After leaving for Old Trafford, Dan Ashworth has been replaced at Newcastle United by someone who has long been touted as the man to save Manchester United.

It's a first return to England for Mitchell since leaving Tottenham in 2016 and going on to enjoy successful spells at Leipzig and Monaco, where he enhanced his reputation, leading to the frequent Manchester United links.

Newcastle officials managed to prevent his appointment from leaking out, with the i paper this week claiming the fact Mitchell arrived unattached means he's "been able to work on potential deals in the background this summer".

Some of his deals in the past have been hugely impressive.

Dani Olmo, outstanding in Spain's win over Germany in the European Championship quarter-final clash on Friday, was signed for Leipzig by Mitchell, who also has several success stories from his time at Southampton and Spurs.

He signed Sadio Mane for Saints for just £11m and Dusan Tadic was another St Mary's gem.

His best signings at Spurs included one Kieran Trippier, Toby Alderweireld, who he'd previously taken to Southampton, Deli Alli and Son Heung-Min.

Son is a stand-out name there given what he's achieved in the Premier League, but the early days of the striker's time in the capital was a learning curve for Mitchell.

"I took quite a lot of criticism in my first year at Tottenham for some of my decisions and Sonny was kind of at the centre of that, and it was a bit of a learning curve for me; that sometimes players need time," he previously told Sky.

"They're human beings, they need time to settle.

"There was this narrative that started to grow internally and externally that he wasn't a good finisher and I remember one of the staff members saying that to me when I was watching a training session, and I said 'you're wrong, because his history shows at two different clubs that he's a very astute finisher off both sides'.

"And we have this seen over the years, since that first year of integration, because you know the qualities of the individual - it's everything we saw. The coach effect obviously (helps) growing that potential to be consistent and he will, I think, go down as one of the greatest players in Premier League history."


When Regis Le Bris was briefed by Sunderland's media team ahead of sitting down with the press for his unveiling this week, he will have undoubtedly been made aware of the inevitable striker question that would come his way.

It's been a hot topic - and understandably so - on Wearside for several windows now but the need to bring in a striker is surely greater than ever this summer.

With Mason Burstow having returned to Stamford Bridge after his underwhelming spell, the three remaining strikers on Sunderland's books are Nazariy Rusyn, Hemir and Eliezer Mayenda. Rusyn top scored out of that trio last season with two league goals.

And so, the obvious question landed quite early for Le Bris: Is he confident he'll get a new striker this summer?

The Frenchman unsurprisingly didn't give too much away, but he acknowledged the importance of the role and the "needs" of the team.

Rusyn will hope to kick-on this season after his challenging first campaign, but there are question marks as to whether Hemir and Mayenda are yet ready for the Championship. What about Jobe Bellingham? Will he be used as a striker by Le Bris? Pre-season will provide some answers.

"Everyone can score goals," said the head coach.

"If the responsibility is on the striker, it’s always difficult. We know this position is always very important for the team and the club, and the organisation is aware of this. We will see. We know it’s important to be efficient, but we are clear about the needs of this team."



Boro are set to continue their fast and hugely encouraging start to the summer transfer window with the capture of in-demand Harley Hunt from Swindon.

Hunt is only 16 but has already played three times for Swindon's first team in League Two and played a starring role in helping the Railwaymen reach the last eight of last season's FA Youth Cup, stunning Sunderland and Manchester United on the way.

He was wanted by Aston Villa and Southampton this season but tempted to Teesside by Boro's vision for his progression and path to the first team.

Not many coaches know Hunt better than Sean Wood, boss of Swindon's Under-18s, and he believes the 6ft3 centre-half has the tools - both mentally and physically - to fulfil his potential.

"Fair play to him, he looks massive out there, doesn’t he? He doesn’t look out of place at all," said Wood after Hunt's first team breakthrough at Swindon last term.

“It is brilliant to see, he is a great kid who wants to learn, but he still does have loads to learn.

“He knows what he needs to improve on and we will continue to do that next year with whatever environment he is in and what staff he is working under.

“He has got the right character and determination to kick on now, so that will hold him in good stead.”

Hunt felt he benefited massively from his first team opportunities last season and even training with the senior stars has brought him on, he says.

“It is a big difference playing first-team football because there is so much more to be switched on to, there is so much more to do, and loads of information to give," he said.

“It is much better for me and my career because I have been there and done under-18s football, so now to come into first-team football I am learning a lot and that is going to help me a lot.

“One of my biggest things [at the start of the season] was to try and kick on with the first team and make my debut, so now that has happened I just have to keep going.”

His long-term aim on Teesside will be to follow the likes of Hayden Hackney and Law McCabe into the first team, and Boro believe the defender can have a big future, but he is only 16 and won't be rushed. As Michael Carrick has shown on several occasions, though, if he deems a player good enough, they'll get their chance.