Kevin Phillips has claimed “it is a big concern” that Sunderland are losing all of the youth players before they get an opportunity to play for the first team.

The Stadium of Light legend, speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs, insisted keeping hold of academy players is now of increased importance given the financial circumstances. 

The Black Cats confirmed that Paul Reid, the club’s Academy Director, had left after two years at the Academy of Light.

During his tenure a number of highly-rated talents left the club without making a real impact on the first team. 

Football Insider understands that Bali Mumba is close to agreeing a move to Norwich while exciting forward Joe Hugill joined Manchester United in May.   

When asked by Football Insider if the club was losing their talents too early, Phillips said:  “It’s a big concern because it is difficult right now to be able to afford to go out and buy players.

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“They have got some really talented players so you do not want to see that happen. You want to see the work their way up to the first team and get given their chance. 

“It is a concern and I hope that they appoint someone in that area who gets control of it and stops these players going. 

“The scouting network, at academy level, has been really good. It is just the first team area that has not bee great over the past four years. 

“For me it is a really important area of the club and they need to blood their youth and bring them through to the first team.”  

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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