Sunderland set to join Newcastle in hunt for 20-year-old L2 sensation

Sunderland have been credited with an interest in Scunthorpe United’s 20-year-old striker John McAtee, according to the former agent and journalist James Goodwin.

McAtee made headlines before lockdown when he began starring for Scunthorpe’s first team, attracting the interest of Newcastle United. They had him watched as he bagged the only goal of the game to see Cheltenham beaten 1-0.  He only made his full debut on New Year’s Day and has since scored two goals, snatched two assists and earned three Man of the Match awards in his 10 appearances.

McAtee was a youth at Shrewsbury and went on loan spells with Telford, Curzon Ashton and Ashton before being snapped up by former manager Paul Hurst last summer. He broke through in January and February but was then forced to curtail his improvement as the pandemic put a stop to football. Hurst has since been sacked as Iron manager, with Russ Wilcox taking charge.

Former Scunthorpe Chief Executive Officer Jim Rodwell switched from Glanford Park to The Stadium of Light in April and will have seen the talents of McAtee first hand. The Black Cats will be looking to find not only League One quality footballers, but also players whom they may be able to turn a profit on as they face a new, frugal future.

It is unclear whether Newcastle are set to follow their interest up once the Premier League finishes and, even if they did, it would be likely he would be loaned back out into the EFL. However, one club unlikely to benefit from such a loan would be Sunderland, who will know if they want McAtee they’ll not be able to rely on their neighbour’s generosity.

Our View

McAtee’s rise has been sensational, he struggled to impress at Shrewsbury, but a handful of strong outings for the Iron put him firmly on the radar of Newcastle United. The Salford-born striker seemed set for the move north east, but can Sunderland get one over on their old rivals and offer him something the Magpies cannot; first-team chances?

There would be a fee involved, but given the relatively short amount of time he’s been with Scunthorpe, it might be low enough to convince the Black Cats to take a punt.

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