We are delighted to announce the arrival of Zak Johnson on a loan move from Sunderland, pending international clearance.

The 19-year-old central defender is our fourth, and final, loan signing, and our 11th new arrival ahead of the start of the 2024 SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division campaign.

“When Sunderland agreed that I should go and get some minutes elsewhere, I set up a Zoom call with the gaffer here and Brian Gartland and I was hooked straight way,” said Johnson.

“I know for my development that I need to play first-team football and I think this will be a great opportunity for me to take a big step forward in my career.”

Johnson joined his hometown club as an eight-year-old and became the youngest outfield player to play for Sunderland in 50 years when he made his debut in a Papa John’s Trophy clash with Manchester United in October 2021 at the age of 16.

After signing a professional deal with the English Championship club in 2022, he made his first start in a Carabao Cup tie with Crewe Alexandra and captained the England U18 side at a tournament in Portugal in the summer of 2023.

Johnson spent time on loan at Hartlepool United from September to January, making 12 appearances for the National League side.

“Zak has had first-team experience already this season with Hartlepool and he captained England U18s last summer which is a great achievement considering the wealth of talent at underage level,” said Dundalk FC head coach Stephen O’Donnell.

“Physically, he is a big specimen and he has a good personality and we are looking forward to having him in the group.”

Picture: Ben McShane/Sportsfile