Newcastle United 'continue to watch' £1.5m Sunderland star who they 'spoke to' in the summer

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Newcastle United have been surprisingly linked with a player impressing with local rivals Sunderland.

Newcastle United reportedly 'monitored' Jobe Bellingham's progress during his time at Birmingham City - and are still keeping a watching brief on the Sunderland youngster.

Bellingham, the youngster brother of Real Madrid and England star Jude, has been a major success since moving to the Stadium of Light in a £1.5m during the summer transfer window. After following his elder sibling through the youth system with the Blues, England Under-19 star Bellingham made 26 appearances for the Midlands club before making the switch to Wearside.

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The 18-year-old has been a regular feature in Black Cats sides this season, scoring four goals and providing one assist in 25 appearances in all competitions as his side challenge for a play-off place in the Championship. The youngster received glowing praise from former Sunderland manager Tony Mowbray prior to his departure last month as he described Bellingham as 'like a seasoned pro'.

He said: "He acts like a seasoned pro, and demands standards, even in small sided games he wants to win. You can see he has a very focused driven thought pattern on where he is going and how he is going to get there. And that is to try to be excellent in everything you do. It’s a great mentality. It helps our team to have someone so young."

As with a number of Black Cats youngsters, Bellingham - who is set to play a key role for his side in Saturday's eagerly anticipated Wear-Tyne FA Cup tie - has been linked with a move away from the Stadium of Light and there was some speculation suggesting he could follow another path taken by his elder brother by joining Real Madrid.

The Daily Mail have now reported Newcastle spoke to Bellingham's family prior to his move to Sunderland and were keen to add him to their youth ranks. A preference for immediate first-team football led to a decision to join the Black Cats - but the Magpies are said to be one of a number of Premier League clubs 'keeping tabs' on his progress at the Stadium of Light.

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