South Shields have announced the signings of versatile Dutch defender Wouter Verstraaten and midfielder Callum Ross.
23-year-old Verstraaten, who came through the ranks of Eredivisie giants PSV Eindhoven, can play anywhere across the backline and in midfield. He has also played for FC Eindhoven, Pacific Tigers and Portland Timbers’ Under-23s, and played several times for Northern League side Consett earlier this season after moving to England to study at Durham University.
Shields joint-manager Graham Fenton said: “We’re delighted to welcome Wouter to the club. He’s someone we’ve been keeping an eye on for a few months now.
“He had an extremely good football upbringing at PSV Eindhoven as a young man and then moved on to Portland Timbers for a couple of seasons. More recently he moved to study for a degree at Durham University, while also playing a few games for Consett.
“Myself, Lee Picton, Brian Smith and Wess Brown have all watched him on a number of occasions and been extremely impressed with his technical ability and athleticism, which we feel will compliment our squad extremely well.”
Newcastle-born midfielder Ross has been training with the club for several weeks and international clearance has now been granted. The 25-year-old had most recently been playing for Oklahoma City Energy in the United Soccer League, which is one tier below Major League Soccer.
He spent two seasons with Energy, having previously played for Charlotte Independence and Wingate University, with whom he won the NCAA national title in 2016. Ross is well-known to Shields joint managers Lee Picton and Graham Fenton, who helped to develop him during his time in Monkseaton High School’s football academy.
Picton is excited about the prospect of working with the player again. He said: “We’re delighted to bring Callum Ross to the club.
“He is someone both myself and Graham know very well from our time at Monkseaton. He has developed into a real top class all-round midfield player who can also play just as comfortably at the back.”