National League side Hartlepool United are set to trigger a clause in the contract of attacking midfielder Josh Hawkes, despite interest from Sunderland and Middlesbrough.
The 20-year-old has caught the eye of an array of high-profile clubs after a string of impressive performances for the Monkey Hangers, scoring eight goals in 25 appearances this season.
North East clubs Newcastle United, Middlesbrough and Sunderland are believed to have been interested in signing the attacking midfielder, with the latter being rebuffed in their approach to take the player on trial a year ago.
But reports from the Hartlepool Mail now claim that the Pools are set to trigger a one-year extension clause in Hawkes’ deal at the Super 6 Stadium, and is likely to remain at the club beyond this season.
This comes as a real blow for the likes of Sunderland, who are still in with a huge shout of promotion to the Championship this season.
Jack Ross’ men currently sit two points off the automatic promotion spots, with a game in hand on Barnsley.
This is a big blow for Sunderland, with Hawkes looking increasingly likely to stay at Hartlepool despite interest from some big clubs.
The attacking midfielder has been a regular under new Pools boss Craig Hignett, and having seen him play on more than one occasion, I feel that he definitely capable of making the step-up.
Sunderland have a plethora of talented youngsters coming through the ranks at the Academy of Light, and Hawkes would have been another exciting addition for the Black Cats.