Leeds United plan to appoint a new academy manager by the end of this month.
The Elland Road club are preparing to stage final interviews for the position at Thorp Arch after compiling a shortlist of applicants.
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The job has been vacant since the end of October, when former academy chief Neil Thompson was sacked by the club after a tenure of more than six years.
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Leeds instigated a sweeping review of their youth-team system amid concerns about the dwindling number of self-produced players moving from their academy to Simon Grayson's senior squad.
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The programme at Thorp Arch has been in the hands of technical director Gwyn Williams in the interim but a permanent replacement for Thompson is set to be decided in the next fortnight.
Chairman Ken Bates said the club were attempting to strike a balance between experience and youthful enthusiasm and described the role as one of the "most important jobs in the club".
Bates said: "We've had over 40 applications and in the long-term it's one of the most important jobs in the club, second only to the manager himself. We're not going to be rushed into it.
"The numbers have been whittled down to about nine and I'm hoping that this month Gwyn, Shaun (Harvey) and Simon can sit down to do the final interviews and make an appointment.
"I'd be surprised if we haven't made an appointment by February. That's the plan.
"We've had some very good applications and we want the right person with enough experience to make sure he does well, but young enough to make sure there's still fire in his belly."