Leeds coach shares why latest academy sensation is being fast-tracked into team
By Alex Stevens
Leeds coach Jason Blunt has singled out the club’s latest academy sensation Jack Clarke for praise after his debut for the Under-23s.
Clarke made the step up from the Under-16s and Under-18s to the Yorkshire giants’ second string on Monday when he was named in the starting XI for their 1-1 draw against Huddersfield.
The schoolboy striker, 16, did not find the net but was part of a solid performance at Leeds’ Thorp Arch training headquarters in which Eoghan Stokes opened the scoring only for Oliver Dyson to strike an injury-time equaliser for Huddersfield.
Under-23s coach Blunt revealed that Clarke had made a significant impression on the club’s coaching staff with his age-group performances this season.
“I was delighted to see Jack out there playing, he is a young lad who is still at school, which bodes well for the future and I thought he did extremely well,” Blunt told the official Leeds website.
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“He tired towards the end, but he showed some good touches, he has done well at Under-16s and recently stepped up to the Under-18s and he deserved a reward for doing well.”
Leeds’ academy has produced a number of highly rated players in recent seasons, with Lewis Cook, Sam Byram and current first-teamers Charlie Taylor, Ronaldo Vieira and Kalvin Phillips all making the leap from the youth ranks to a regular place in the senior team.
Cook was sold to Bournemouth for a fee rising to £10million last summer, six months after Byram joined West Ham for £3.75million.
Taylor could be the next player to make the move to the Premier League from Elland Road, as he has entered the final four months of his contract and has not yet agreed a new deal.