Sunderland trial for rising star Brandon Fernandes

Adding further weight to his burgeoning reputation as one of the most promising young talents in the country, India under-19 midfielder Brandon Fernandes has been invited by Premier League club Sunderland for a trial for the second time in a span of three months.

The 19-year-old was first invited by Sunderland in October this year after the club's scouts monitored his performances in the Second Division of South African league, playing for ASD Cape Town. However, since Sunderland were undergoing a managerial change that week, they were asked to return later in the year.

"ASD Cape Town can confirm that Brandon Fernandes spent two weeks with Sunderland earlier this year where he received an excellent technical report. He was scouted by Sunderland in Cape Town whilst playing for ASD's SAFA 2 side," the club said in a statement.

"His time at Sunderland was the week in which Sunderland changed their management and Paulo Di Canio was sacked. As a result, both players were requested to return to Sunderland later in the year."

Fernandes, a product of I-League club Salgaocar's youth side, burst onto the scene with his performances for the India U-19 team during the AFC U-19 qualifiers in Tehran. He impressed again when, playing for Salgaocar's youth team, he put up noteworthy performances at a tournament organised by Manchester United in Manchester. Based on his performances in that tournament, ASD Cape Town came calling and he became the first Asian player to be signed by the South African team.

Since then, he has been the most talked about Indian youth footballer. The midfielder, with a reputation of being a dead-ball specialist, scored 12 goals in as many matches for his club in the second division and four of those goals came from free-kicks.

His performances in South Africa haven't gone unnoticed. He has invited by English clubs like Reading and Leicester City earlier this year. And though the Goan teenager failed to land contracts with either of the sides, ASD are optimistic about his future. "We will be making an announcement on (the player's future) imminently," the club said.

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