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Sunderland establish Caribbean talent link-up

Sunderland have confirmed they're in partnership with telecommunications operator Digicel for the Digicel Kick Start Football Clinics in the Caribbean.

Led by Jamaican-born head coach John Barnes, the former England and Liverpool winger, the clinics will identify six of the most talented players in the region to spend a week training with the Black Cats' stars of the future at the club's Academy of Light training headquarters.

Barnes will work with youngsters in Guyana, Barbados, Haiti, Antigua, Surinam, Trinidad, St Kitts and Jamaica.

He said: "I'm looking forward to the clinics and to seeing the level of talent amongst the next generation of Caribbean footballers.

"You see what happened in Africa 20 to 30 years ago when a lot of people were slow to recognise the talent - well, the Caribbean is an untapped market.

"Talent here needs to be harnessed and given an opportunity, and these clinics developed by Digicel are an opportunity to do just that.

"In England, they now recognise the fact that although Africa is saturated, this is the next place where you are going to get talented footballers coming out to grace the Premier League."

Sunderland, who yesterday moved to play down reports that Barnes would be scouting for the club in the Caribbean, have become involved in the initiative as part of their work to promote the club in the area.

Marketing director Lesley Callaghan said: "We are delighted to be working with Digicel to showcase Sunderland Football Club to a wider international audience, and we look forward to welcoming the players to Sunderland's academy."

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