Sunderland’s Alex Gorrin joins New Zealand club Wellington Phoenix

Alex Gorrin

Alex Gorrin

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SUNDERLAND youngster Alex Gorrin is heading down under after penning a two-year deal with New Zealand outfit Wellington Phoenix.

Spaniard Gorrin has spent four years coming through Sunderland’s ranks after arriving at the Academy of Light from his Tenerife home at 16.

But with the midfielder one of several players being released from Sunderland’s development squad this summer, he has agreed a move to Phoenix, who compete in the Australian A League.

Sunderland Under-21 coach Kevin Ball said: “Alex has signed as Wellington Phoneix’s marquee player for two years.

“We’re releasing him quite early, he could still play under-21 football next season.

“He’s a great lad. He drives you nuts because he always wants to play football.

“He came to this country at 16, couldn’t speak a word of English and now he talks like a Mackem!

“For me, it’s quite a hard moment to see him getting released without getting that opportunity, but that’s the way it is.

“Now he’s going off to New Zealand and you hope in two years time, someone is bidding to bring him back to England.

“If that’s the case, do I think we missed out? No, I just think that was his destiny.”

While there promises to be seismic changes to Sunderland’s first-team squad this summer, the U21s will face a similar overhaul with a host of players being freed at the end of their contracts.

John Egan, currently on loan at League Two Southend, has a list of several admirers, while Billy Knott could join Port Vale after spending the last four months with the Valiants.

Defender Louis Laing is due to discover his fate with Championship Blackburn Rovers too after spending the last fortnight on trial at Ewood Park.

With so many youngsters leaving Sunderland after barely making an impression on the first-team, it has inevitably prompted question marks over the development of players at the academy.

But former Sunderland skipper Ball strongly defends the club’s work.

He said: “The ultimate aim of course is to get players in the first-team, we’re not stupid. But that’s been very difficult this season in the circumstances.

“Some of them have had to go on different pathways.

“People say to me, it’s not a success because you’ve not got players in the first-team or no-one has made their debuts.

“I agree to disagree.

“This set of players might have their own set of objectives or abilities.

“Are you going to make one of them into a regular Premier League player? You might do over time.

“But each will go on their own pathway.”