Tom Cairney, released by Leeds United at 16, explains where club have got youth system wrong

James Milner FIFA EA Sports

The Blackburn Rovers star believes Leeds had to sell young talent too early.

Leeds United take on Blackburn Rovers this weekend, and that means facing a former player. Tom Cairney joined Leeds' academy at the age of seven and went on to stay at the club until the age of 16. In 2007 he was released because of his sleight build and went on to play for Hull City before joining current club Blackburn, initially on loan, in 2013.

Now the Scotland under-21 international must look on at envy as plenty of Leeds youngsters get a chance. The likes of Sam Byram, Charlie Taylor, Alex Mowatt and Lewis Cook are all regular members of the team whilst Kalvin Phillips, Lewis Walters and Chris Dawson will hope for the same next term.

The Leeds youth system however has always produced top young talent. Cairney believes that Leeds have made mistakes in the past regarding that commodity.

He is quoted by UK Eurosport as stating:

"If the players would have stayed at Leeds who came through the academy - like Aaron Lennon, Milner, Delph - they would have made even more money than they would have done selling them when they were 17 or 18.

"It is a shame really, especially for the fans, because as an academy they are one of the best."

He has a point.

Aaron Lennon has gone on to play for England and is currently a Tottenham player who would have demanded quite a fee if Leeds had held on a couple of years later.

Fabian Delph is now a starter for the England national team and Aston Villa are likely to ward off some big offers for him.

Manchester City paid Aston Villa, as reported by the BBC, £26 million for James Milner's services. This summer teams are squabbling over who gets the player now his contract at City has come to an end.

Of course Leeds often had their hands tied in these circumstances. Financial woes hit the club hard.

As for Leeds' current crop, the situation at the club is now intriguing. Their form will have attracted suitors, of that there can be no doubt, and the fear remains that Leeds may make the same mistake with this batch as the last - and sell them too early and, consequently, on the cheap.

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