Sheffield United: Blades confirm academy plans

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Sheffield United have confirmed their Steelphalt academy will again be audited at category two status during the latest round of Elite Player Performance Plan reviews.

The League One club’s youth system was first awarded the status nearly three years ago and, its manager Nick Cox told The Star, has applied to retain it again next term.

United, who earlier this week were named as the third best scoring category two academy by an EPPP research team, said: “We are coming to the end of the three year EPPP audit cycle and will be audited at category two again early next season. The academy is high up the agenda with United’s technical board, including the (first team) manager, Nigel Adkins, who is keen to see the academy as a focal point for his squad moving forwards.”

EPPP is a long-term strategy designed to improve the development of young footballers in consultation between the Premier League, the Football League, the FA and other key stakeholders. Academies are graded from ‘one’ to ‘four’ with United electing to apply for a category two ranking when EPPP was first rolled-out.

Adkins, who has selected graduates including George Long, Louis Reed and Callum McFadzean so far this term, spoke before Tuesday’s fixture against Blackpool about the importance of establishing “clear pathways” through from academy to senior level. Kyle Walker, Stephen Quinn, Matthew Lowton, Harry Maguire and Kyle Naughton feature among the alumni to play top-flight football in recent seasons while another, Aymen Tahar, is now on loan with Portuguese club Boavista after signing a long-term contract with Steaua Bucharest of Romania.