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Club News

New Deals For Clarets Prospects

First pro contracts for Clarke and McNeil and new deal for Koiki

10 April 2018

Academy prospects Dwight McNeil and James Clarke have signed their first professional deals at Turf Moor.

The pair, both 18, have followed team-mate Ollie Younger in securing contracts with the Clarets after completing their two-year scholarships.

And left-back Ali Koiki, 18, has also signed a new deal to extend his stay at Turf Moor.

The trio, along with Younger, have been regulars in the under-23s this season and have been rewarded for their progress under Michael Duff, who previously worked with them in the club’s under-18 side.

Attacking midfielder McNeil – who has signed a two-year deal with the option of a further 12 months – has also trained with the first team this season and was given a squad number before traveling with Sean Dyche’s squad for their Premier League game at Swansea City in February.

“I’m really chuffed, but hopefully this is only a stepping stone and the start of it with more to come in the future,” said McNeil, who joined Burnley’s youth set-up in 2014 after being released by Manchester United.

Ali Koiki with his representatives assistant under-23s boss Andy Farrell

“I think it’s been a better season than I expected, being with the under-23s regularly, and training with the first team.

“When you get the chance to do that and see that, you realise it’s something you want to do for the rest of your life.”

Clarke’s fine season has also been recognised with a recent first call-up to the Republic of Ireland under-18 squad for the right-sided defender, who has signed a 12-month deal with the option of a further year.

“It’s always been a dream to be a professional footballer. Even though I’ve played football all my life to finally say ‘I’m a professional footballer’ means a lot,” said the Wirral-born defender, who has been with the Clarets since he was 14.

“Obviously I’m not there yet, though. I’ve got a long way to go and hopefully I can kick on next season.

“I think I’ve improved a lot from last season. Playing under Duffo improved me and playing under him again as the under-23 manager has allowed me to push on. Playing right-back and centre-back I’ve been able to develop in both positions.”

Koiki, who joined the Clarets in 2016 after being spotted playing local football for an academy side in Croydon, has also signed a year’s contract extension with a 12-month option.

“I’m very happy. It’s a big thing, coming where I’ve come from. It’s another step and I just want to continue to improve,” said Koiki, who was released by Crystal Palace as an 11-year-old.

“Playing so regularly this season has been a good thing and hopefully next year I can progress and improve myself further.

“To come into a new training ground every day, where everything is modern, is fantastic and this is a really good place to be.”

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