Hartlepool United has reached a decision regarding Sunderland’s academy defender Zak Johnson, as per information from The Mail. An agreement has been reached to extend Johnson’s loan deal, with the teenager remaining at the Suit Direct Stadium until the New Year. This extension has been worked out with Championship club Sunderland.
Zak Johnson initially joined Hartlepool on a short-term loan last month, with the intention of gaining valuable first-team experience before both clubs would reevaluate the situation. Johnson made appearances for Hartlepool, including their National League defeat at Aldershot Town, which was initially expected to be the final game of his loan spell. However, The Mail reports that Johnson is now set to continue with Hartlepool until January.
Johnson has started in six of the seven games during his time with John Askey’s side. Unfortunately, he suffered an injury during the first half of the recent defeat at Aldershot. But unless the injury turns out to be long-term, Johnson will stay with Hartlepool until the New Year. At that point, the situation can be reviewed further to determine Sunderland’s stance regarding Johnson’s development.
In the wake of his initial one-month deal with Hartlepool, Johnson highlighted the importance of this move in his career progression, especially in the context of gaining experience in first-team football. The aim is for him to compete within Tony Mowbray’s first-team squad upon his return to the Stadium of Light.
Johnson expressed his thoughts, stating, “I think it’s a massive step forward in my career. Hartlepool has shown their enthusiasm for me to come and play and aid my development, and Sunderland has said it could be a really good opportunity. I know that Hartlepool and Sunderland have good connections with each other, and they’re both committed to being transparent about my development, which is really important. For me, it’s about gaining as much first-team match experience as possible because there’s a significant transition from the under-21 development program to being in a first-team environment. I’ve just loved the intensity of it. It’s quite distinct from academy football, where everything is primarily focused on development. In contrast, in this environment, there’s a real emphasis on winning, earning points, and building relationships with your teammates. Every aspect like that holds significance.”