Hartlepool United have completed the signing of former Sunderland midfielder Adam Bale on a permanent deal until the end of next season.
After being released by the Black Cats earlier in the season, Bale impressed during a trial period at the Super 6 Stadium last month.
During that time the 20-year-old played in a behind-closed-doors game at Middlesbrough.
After coming through Sunderland's academy, Bale was made captain of the Black Cats' under-23 side following his recovery from a serious knee injury.
A tough tackling midfielder, Bale predominantly played in the middle of the park for the young Black Cats but can also drop into defence.
Pools' first-team coach Ged McNamee was the academy manager at Sunderland until 2016 and brought Bale to the Stadium of Light as a youngster.
Speaking to Hartlepool's website after completing the move Bale said: “I got the chance to train with the squad for two weeks and I played in a game too and it was something I really enjoyed.
“I then got a phone call to say there was an opportunity to sign for Hartlepool and I was buzzing straight away and so were my family when I told them about it.
“It was good to train and be alongside the senior players and I’ve also known Luke Molyneux well for years so it helped having him around too – that will definitely help me settle in now.
“I want to come here and really develop my game and help the Club achieve success. I saw what good players there are when I came in to training so hopefully we can really push on.”
Bale will wear the number 26 shirt for Craig Hignett's side and link-up with new team-mates on Monday.
A Sunderland statement read: “Adam Bale has left Sunderland AFC in order to complete a permanent move to Hartlepool United.
“The midfielder, who has featured for the under-18s and under-23s in recent seasons, has signed a deal with the National League side until the end of the 2019-20 campaign.
“SAFC would like to wish Adam the best of luck for the future.”