The reputation of Sheffield United's SheelPhalt Academy continues to grow with football authorities recognising the impressive work at the Shirecliffe complex.
The latest Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) productivity data shows that the Blades are the:
- 15th best Academy in the country
- 5th best Football League club
- 3rd best scoring Category 2 Academy
EPPP is a long-term strategy designed to take youth development to the next level and is a consultation between the Premier League, the Football League, the Football Association and key football stakeholders. Academies are independently audited and given a category status of one to four, with one being the most elite. Up to 10 different factors are considered in the grading, including productivity rates, training facilities, coaching, education and welfare provisions.
Academy Manager Nick Cox commented: "This week's productivity news emphasises the hard work everyone puts in at the SteelPhalt Academy and this will drive us on further.
"We are coming to the end of the three year EPPP audit cycle and will be audited at category two again early next season. The Academy is high up the agenda with United's technical board, including the manager, Nigel Adkins, who is keen to see the Academy as a focal point for his squad moving forwards."
Currently, George Long and Louis Reed, both products of the Academy, are regulars in senior squads, whilst leading goalscorer Billy Sharp is also homegrown.
U18s goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale's recent call up to an England training camp sees him join a long list of Academy graduates receiving national team recognition, whilst the Shirecliffe venue also boasts a number of junior internationals.
Cox added: "Our U21s currently sit second in their league programme with a youthful squad made up of scholars and young professionals, whilst our competitive U18s side is deliberately made up of first years and schoolboys to accelerate learning and prepare players for senior football.
Additionally, our foundation programme (for U7s to U11s) has gained has national recognition.
"Our games programme for all ages is widely regarded as innovative and pioneering. We provide a unique combination of festivals, tournaments, futsal, floodlit games, bio-banded tournaments and street football, many of the concepts have been adopted by other local clubs and the Premier League."
Cox was a keynote speaker at recent Football Association conference for professional coaches at foundation level, whilst the Academy's Sports Science programme has also been given FA validation in recent weeks.