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Duff Happy With 'Mixed Bag'

Under-23s boss praises varied line-up as Clarets end Crewe unbeaten run

6 April 2018

Michael Duff praised the efforts of his ‘mixed bag’ as youth and experience combined to give the Clarets a second successive Turf Moor win in the Professional Development League.

Jon Walters successfully completed a second 90 minutes on his return from a knee injury, while at the other end of the age scale schoolboy Ed Cook marked his debut as a trialist for the under-23s with the winning goal in a 1-0 victory over in-form Crewe.

“We had a real mixed bag today,” said the Clarets under-23s’ boss Duff. “We had an international with 50 caps, two trialists and a couple of younger ones and a couple of older ones in our group.

“So the structure of the team probably wasn’t quite as organised as we have been.

“But it’s always nice to win and keep a clean sheet, which we haven’t done a lot of, and I thought we saw the game out quite well.

“We started really well. I thought for the first 20 minutes we were excellent and then they grew into it.

“They had a lot of possession but if you break it down into chances, they hit the post and we made a block all in one and a chance at the other end.

“We’ve had two on-on-ones and some real good opportunities.”

Cook slotted home the only goal five minutes before the break after following up a free-kick from Dwight McNeil to hand Crewe a first defeat in eight games.

And McNeil (below) was again a key man for the Clarets as he continues to flourish in a break-through season for the left-footed plat-maker.

“Dwight’s never really played in a 4-4-2 in the centre of midfield. He’s always played on the left, but we want to get him on the ball,” said Duff.

“He’s definitely growing. He looks very comfortable now and people are looking to him to make us play and are happy to give the ball to him because he makes things tick.”

The win over Crewe continued an impressive run since the Clarets went down fighting to Swansea City in the Premier League Cup at the end of February.

Duff’s side has since won four out of seven league games and will get off the bottom of the league’s northern group if they can secure three more points from next Monday’s long trip to Colchester United.

“We’ve had two funny results against them. We’ve beaten them 4-0 and been beaten 3-0. So it could be 0-0!” Duff added.

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