Sunderland legend welcomes club stance on academy stars

Sunderland legend Kevin Phillips has welcomed Kristjaan Speakman’s determination to prevent the departure of the club's best academy talent.

Sunday, 6th June 2021, 4:30 pm

The club's new executive regime has put the category one operation at the heart of its model for future success, with Speakman's track record in player development at Birmingham City key to his appointment as Sporting Director.

The executive team recently met with the Supporters' Collective at the latest structured dialogue meeting, at which it was revealed that 21,000 season cards for the 2021/22 campaign had already been sold.

Supporters asked Speakman about the recently released accounts for the 2019/20 campaign, which highlighted the significant income drawn from the sale of players such as Joe Hugill, Logan Pye and Bali Mumba.

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Speakman was asked what plans were being put in place to tackle that drain of talent and stressed that it was his responsibility to prove to players and parents that Sunderland was the best place for their development.

Speakman has already undertaken an initial restructure of the academy operation, with former head of coaching Lewis Dickman appointed academy manager and Leann Cowperthwaite appoint head of academy operations.

Speakman also intends to include the academy at the heart of the club's improved data and analytics operation.

And club legend Phillips has welcomed the news.

“It’s great news to hear him say that,” said Phillips.

“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.

“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,” he told Football Insider.

Sunderland hope to win promotion back to the Championship at the fourth attempt this season and the squad is set for a major summer revamp.

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