Former Sunderland striker Kevin Phillips has told Football Insider that he is thrilled to hear that the club’s sporting director Kristjaan Speakman is planning to prevent the Black Cats’ best young players from leaving.
The North East club have been guilty in the past of allowing some of the best young talents to come through their academy to slip through their fingers in recent years.
In many cases, youngsters have departed from the Stadium of Light to join higher league clubs after not even being given an opportunity to impress in the Sunderland first team.
One recent example of this was Joe Hugill’s subsequent exit in July of last year as he joined Manchester United after failing to be given adequate opportunities to impress by the Black Cats.
Now Phillips has spoken of his delight after recent comments that were made by Speakman about the club’s plans for the academy:
“It’s great news to hear him say that.
“That is what his job is at the end of the day. He has been brought in to help recruit players into the first team but his biggest priority is keeping young talent at the club.
“It is about persuading them to stay and trying to find them a route into the first team.
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“That is his job so it is good to hear him address it but I have always said actions speak louder than words. We will wait and see next season.
“Yes, it is an encouraging sign to hear those noises but now we need to actually see it happen.”
The likes of Jack Diamond, Denver Hume, Lynden Gooch and Grant Leadbitter are all academy graduates that have featured for the first team during the season just gone, underlining that Sunderland are still very committed to bringing through their own.
I think the main thinking behind this is to enhance the connection between the players and the fans, which is something that can be done quite easily when you have players in the team which grew up in the local area.
It makes it easier for the supporters to relate to those individuals and shows that there is a clear pathway for young talent to make it at the Stadium of Light.
In addition to this, holding onto their younger players for a longer period of time will also increase their value, which in turn means that the Black Cats will rake in more in terms of profit if and when a youngster leaves for a bigger club.
This will help to avoid the annoyance and frustration of losing these talented youngsters for next to nothing and it will in turn help the club to make money on their investment in the youth sector.