Sunderland to fight 'tooth and nail' to keep promising youngsters amid top-flight interest
Sunderland academy director Paul Reid has spoken of his frustration at losing promising players to top flight clubs - but says it proves how good the academy is.
The Black Cats have lost some of their highly-rated youngsters to the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool recently, with Sam Greenwood signing for the Gunners while Liverpool are in for a couple of as yet unnamed Sunderland players.
Reid insists the club will fight ‘tooth and nail’ to keep the best young talent but says ultimately it proves how good the academy is.
“It is frustrating to lose academy players, as we want to see our young players come all the way through the academy and make a difference in the first team," said Reid.
“That is why we have the academy, and from a football perspective that is the main goal of it, but if some of the top clubs come in for our players, we aren’t protected as much as I’d like.
“If a young player at 14 decides he sees his future at another club, there’s not too much we can do about it, as we can’t sign them to five-year deals at that age.
"We have to try and show them what we can offer, but we have to be realistic and understand that we aren’t losing players to clubs lower down the pyramid – these are Europe's elite.
“We intend to fight tooth and nail to keep our best young talent, but if we do ultimately lose players to clubs like that, it shows how good our academy is.
"But we’re confident that we can rival any other category one academy in terms of development and pathway," he told the club website.
Denver Hume, Lynden Gooch and George Honeyman have made the step up.
Reid, who is looking to bring in more academy staff this summer, praised the job done by Jack Ross adding: "The gaffer has been brilliant and he really supports the academy, as do all the first-team management.
"He has been terrific with all the staff and they tell me it is as good as it has ever been."
*Norwich midfielder Kenny McLean has signed a new three-year contract as the club prepare for life back in the Premier League. McLean joined the Canaries from Aberdeen.