By Matty Hewitt
Gateshead FC are delighted to announce the signing of goalkeeper Aynsley Pears on a season long loan from Middlesbrough FC.
Pears, 20, has been a regular in the under 19s at Boro before making the step up to the under 23 side.
Not short of National League experience, Pears linked up with Darlington in January 2018 originally on a one-month loan deal but extended his stay at Blackwell meadows until the end of the season.
The young Boro shot-stopper was one of the reasons for Darlington’s drastic change of form, and Heed manager Steve Watson will be hoping to see similar performances at the International Stadium this year.
“Aynsley is someone that we’ve been trying to bring in all summer, he’s a very good young goalkeeper,” said Watson.
“He’s had experience in the league below so unlike a lot of young goalkeepers, he’s used to the physicality and the rigours of this type of football that we’re going to embark on this season.
“We’re delighted that everything is over the line and as I say he’s been on our radar all summer.
“It’s a relief that everything is complete and I’m looking forward to seeing him play,” added the former Newcastle man.
“It’s taken us a while to get this one over the line as Middlesbrough rate him very highly, they obviously want to be careful and make sure that they’re sending him to the right place.”
Pears kept five clean sheets in 16 games at Darlington and this fine form warranted a latecall-upp to the England under 20s side against Poland.
He’s also the son of former Middlesbrough legend Stephen Pears, who made over 400 appearances at Boro.
Aynsley made the bench for the first team for the Carabao Cup win at Villa Park in September 2017.
“Looking at Pears today he’s technically very good, and Mark Foden has done very well for us so it’s good to have to great keepers competing for that number one spot,” Watson continued.
“I’m delighted that the squad is coming together slowly, we have two quality keepers on board and it takes a lot of worry away from me.
“I can’t wait to get going, but we’ve got one more big test tomorrow to end pre season on a high and Aynsley will be a part of that.”