Kevin Phillips has claimed it is “massive” for Leeds United that their academy has been upgraded to Category One status.

The former Sunderland and West Brom striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs, said that the announcement demonstrated that the club is close to returning to its former heights.

The Whites confirmed on Wednesday that the club’s academy had been awarded Category One status by the Premier League.

An audit earlier in the season found that the level of investment, facilities, resources, staffing and productivity at youth level was worthy of the upgrade.

Phillips suggested that academy players would play a pivotal role in the near future given the financial impact of the coronavirus.

“It is big news,” he told Football Insider.

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“It shows that Leeds are moving back in the right direction. They were challenging in semi-finals in the Champions League, they dropped down to the Championship but hopefully now they will be back in the Premier League and the academy can start moving forward.

“It is important for them to bring players through given the situation at the moment where teams do not have tons and tons of money to splash out. It is massive for them.”

Chief executive Angus Kinnear told the club’s website: “The real credit here must go to Adam Underwood and his team.

“A Category One Academy was one of our key objectives when we started on this journey and we tasked Adam with delivering this within five years and as a team they have completed the job within three years.”

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