Leeds United’s pathway for their academy players has been heavily praised in the past but not every player can make it with The Whites.
A graduate of the famous academy is Liam Kitching, now of Barnsley in League One.
Kitching, 22, from Harrogate, joined the club as a boy and signed a professional two-year-deal in July 2017. He initially spent time with the development side but then received a loan offer to play with his hometown club to gain experience, where he hugely impressed across the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons in the National League.
A loan to the EFL looked like his likely next move, but instead he joined Forest Green Rovers in League Two on a permanent basis.
The centre-back would go on to make 36 appearances at the heart of their defence as they finished 10th in the league.
A move back up to The Championship in the January of the following season in 2020-21 followed. Kitching came back up to Yorkshire, signing for Barnsley who paid a reported £600,000 (GlouctershireLive) for the 21-year-old.
A fairly high fee for a team in Barnsley’s financial position, but they clearly saw the potential in a player to make a two league jump. However, Kitching was left somewhat disappointed as he played only twice for his new side for the remainder of that season.
Since then, he has made himself a mainstay, playing 34 times for Barnsley as his side were relegated last season to League One.
Kitching has been almost ever-present this season with Michael Helik’s departure for Huddersfield Town opening the door for the young centre-back to prove himself alongside Mads Andersen. He has played 10 games this season and scored his first goal for the club against Port Vale in a 1-1 draw earlier this month.
He also played the full 90 minutes on his return to Elland Road in Barnsley’s 2-1 Carabao Cup defeat last month, sparking a brawl with Cody Drameh.
His career so far has been somewhat unusual, bouncing up and down the divisions, but he may now have found a home at Barnsley under Michael Duff in League One as they seek to gain promotion at the first time of asking back to The Championship. They currently sit 6th inside the play-off places.