Kevin Phillips has claimed it is “vitally important” that Sunderland maintain their Category One academy status given the current financial circumstances.

The 2000 European Golden Shoe winner, speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs, suggested the club’s academy players will be given increased opportunities given the financial impact of the coronavirus.

Chief executive Jim Rodwell this week addressed fears over whether the club could afford to continue to invest in the Academy of Light and retain their elite status.

Rodwell assured fans by saying he is “absolutely committed” to the academy and suggested the club will continue to invest in their youth set up.

Phillips was hopeful that the Academy of Light could continue to develop some of the best talents in the North East.

“It is vitally important they retain that status,” he told Football Insider.

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“The Academy of Light is a huge part of the football club.

“Academies are an area that club’s will look to given the financial situation we find ourselves in.

“You want players to come through into the first team. Having a category one academy is vital to that.

“It costs money to keep that status going but it would be a shame if they could not keep the Academy of Light as being that place that brings through these talents.”

Rodwell told the Chronicle: “We are absolutely committed to the academy and our Category One status.

“Having a category one academy in League One is difficult but that is what we are committed to.”

In other Sunderland news, it can be REVEALED that Oxford United have joined Black Cats in the race for Ipswich Town attacker.

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