Angus Kinnear makes bold Leeds United academy claim amid Stuart Dallas future plans

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The Leeds United chief executive has been speaking to fans about the academy, Stuart Dallas and the decision to scrap FA Cup replays among other topics.

Angus Kinnear insists Leeds United’s academy set up is among the most productive in the country for bringing through home grown talent.

United’s under-18s have been in the spotlight recently after reaching the FA Youth Cup final, where they face Manchester City at the Etihad on Friday evening. Rob Etherington’s side will look to win the coveted trophy for the just the third time in the club’s history, with the likes of Charlie Crew and Daniel Toulson looking to follow in the footsteps of past Whites prospects.

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Academy progression has always been at the forefront of Leeds’ identity and other recent examples include the likes of Charlie Cresswell and Archie Gray, with the latter now among the country’s most promising young stars. And Kinnear believes that path to senior football has been key to the academy’s success.

The club recently released minutes of a Supporter Advisory Board (SAB) meeting that took place at Elland road last month, with chief executive Kinnear pointing towards the FA Youth Cup team as a clear example of a well-run academy.

Minutes from the report read: “AK [Kinnear] says he believes the academy is strong for homegrown talent. It says LUFC is in the top eight UK academies for productivity. He says a clear path into the first team is important for academy players. The club recruited a new academy manager (Martin Diggle) and also a great achievement to reach the final of the FA Youth Cup, showing more progress.”

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At the other end of the footballer life-cycle, Stuart Dallas announced his retirement from playing last month. The 33-year-old has not kicked a ball for over two years after suffering a fractured femur during a nasty collision with Manchester City’s Jack Grealish.

Dallas remains a much-loved figure at Leeds, having been central to Marcelo Bielsa’s promotion-winning side, but the midfielder’s contract was due to expire in the summer and the prospect of playing football remained some way off. The Northern Ireland international has spent nine years of his career at Elland Road and Kinnear appeared to suggest that could be extended.

More notes from the SAB confirmed that Kinnear and those in charge at Leeds had been looking at ways to keep Dallas involved beyond this season. The Whites chief also revealed that Dallas is ‘extremely thankful for all support received’.

Kinnear also had his say on the controversial decision to scrap FA Cup replays from next season. The shock decision was announced last month with the FA insisting ‘all parties’ had accepted the proposals amid ongoing concerns over player welfare.

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But a number of English Football League (EFL) clubs suggested otherwise, with replays often providing a much-needed cash boost to the lower leagues, particularly when up against Premier League or well-followed Championship teams such as Leeds. And a ‘disappointed’ Kinnear outlined the club’s clear stance during the meeting, echoing other EFL clubs in stating the 72 member clubs were ‘not part of the decision’.