Huddersfield Town have parted company with academy chief Mark Lillis.

The popular 56-year-old, who has also served the club as player, youth-team coach and caretaker manager, departs after four and a half years in the post.

During that time, he helped Town gain prized category two academy status under the Elite Player Performance Plan.

Lead youth development coach Dave Haley, who oversees the 12 to 16-year-olds at the club, and foundation phase coach Mick Reid (eight to 12) have also left.

Town are now looking for new faces in all three roles, and they will be tasked with producing more players capable of shining at first-team level.

Dean Hoyle, who appointed Lillis in succession to another ex-Town player, Graham Mitchell, in December 2011, has acted following a review of the youth system.

“I want our fans to know these changes have been made with one aim - to improve the quality of young footballer that the academy is producing and get them playing regularly in our first team,” explained the chairman.

“Reaching this decision was in no way easy; all three have worked hard during long spells in the academy.

“In particular, Mark was an appointment that I led and he’s been a fantastic ambassador for the club and the academy.

“In many ways he epitomises the qualities our fans relate to: 100% commitment, passion and determination.

“All three have contributed to getting the club to the level reached and I wish Mark, Dave and Mick all the best for the future.

“However, I have stated before that nobody at Huddersfield Town is happy with treading water in the Championship and the intention is that the academy will play a large part in helping the club make steps forward on the field.

“The academy plays a big part in our football strategy and the truth is that it has not been delivering Championship-quality footballers on a regular basis.

“The young players making a genuine impact at first-team level – the likes of Philip Billing, Flo Bojaj and, before that, Tommy Smith and Harry Bunn – have been recruited from outside at 16 and above.

“That extends to the players who have gained such good results at Under 18 and Under 21 level in recent seasons.

“A number of those players, such as Ronan Coughlan, Danny Kane and Tadhg Ryan, were recruited in their late teens.

“The level of production from the academy must be – and will be – better.

“The academy costs around £1.5m to run, with around £1m direct cost to the club, every season and it cannot be a vanity project.

“I’m very proud to see our younger age groups winning leagues and performing well in cups – it also helps us with recruitment – but ultimately the academy exists to produce players for the first team.”

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Hoyle added: “Taking this club to the next level will involve hard decisions, but they must be made for the good of Huddersfield Town.

“We’ve started those at first-team level recently, with the appointment of David Wagner and more recently (head of performance services) John Iga.

“Today’s move is a difficult one, but we believe it is a necessary step towards our goal of improving the quality of footballer emerging from the academy.”