Matt Kilgallon fears Redfearn controversy could force talented youngsters to leave Leeds

Alex Mowatt

Former Leeds centre back Matthew Kilgallon is concerned about the future of young players at Elland Road.

Former Leeds United defender Matthew Kilgallon believes the ongoing drama at Elland Road could force the club's talented youngsters to leave, with quotes reported by Eurosport.

Kilgallon, 31, is currently playing for Blackburn Rovers - who thrashed Leeds 3-0 on Saturday - but started his career with Leeds, making 95 appearances before leaving to join Yorkshire rivals Sheffield United in 2007.

A product of the Leeds youth academy himself, Kilgallon will be aware of the exploits from a number of fellow graduates, with Sam Byram, Charlie Taylor, Lewis Cook and Alex Mowatt all coming up through the ranks at Elland Road and playing key roles under manager Neil Redfearn.

However, Redfearn's future has been plunged into doubt after his assistant Steve Thompson was suspended without his knowledge, and he told the BBC last week that he is now considering his position in charge of the club as a result.

Leeds risk losing a manager who has not only stabilised the club but has also helped develop a host of young players - and Kilgallon believes that this latest controversy could force those youngsters to leave Elland Road in the near future.

"It would be (criminal to lose them) but I think they are going to see what's happening here," said Kilgallon. "They're playing really well and deserve a big contract somewhere, or another club, but they'll find it hard leaving here, that's the thing."

"It's a passionate club and a great team to play for. I wish they would stay here and watch them climb up the league and do well but I just think they're very good players and people will come and get them," he added.

Byram and Cook were linked with moves to Aston Villa last week by The Sun, whilst Mowatt has also been touted for a move to Liverpool by The Mirror.

With both Byram and Cook out of contract in just over a year's time, Leeds are at risk of losing them both on the cheap to a Premier League club - and the ongoing saga involving Redfearn and Thompson won't help their quest to keep them in West Yorkshire.

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