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Premier League Taste For Academy Prospects

Scholars travel with first-team squad as Clarets have eye on the future

12 February 2018

Teenagers Ollie Younger and Dwight McNeil were given a taste of the big time as the Clarets keep an eye on the future.

The second-year scholars - both aged 18 - were part of Burnley’s travelling squad for last Saturday’s 1-0 Premier League defeat at Swansea City.

Central defender Younger and attacking midfielder McNeil have both been regular members of Michael Duff’s under-23 side this season.

And senior boss Sean Dyche said the pair warranted their promotion to supplement a squad missing eight senior players through injury for the trip to South Wales.

“It’s great for them to get a feel of it,” Dyche told Clarets Player HD.

“They get a feel for the build-up, how we build-up, and a feel for the Premier League and the performance.

“It’s an important part of their stepping stone.

“They are part of the group. They have been training with us and working with us and they have been showing good signs.

“They have got a lot of work to do yet, but when we can, they come and work with us and work with the team. And not just those two. Other players come and train with us. It’s an on-going thing.”

Dyche regards improving players as a key part of his role and has seen the Clarets go from strength-to-strength over the past few seasons as a result.

However, getting players through from Academy football to Premier League level is an increasingly difficult task.

And even though local lad Younger and former Manchester United junior McNeil have taken the first tentative steps, Dyche knows winning first-team football is ultimately what counts and remains the primary objective.

“We aren’t here to look for the glory of developing players. We are here to win games and we know we have to get back to that,” added the Burnley boss, whose side is now without a league win in 10 games after Swansea struck late at the Liberty Stadium to take the points.

“But there has to be a secondary level. Behind the result there’s an on-going way that we work and these two are part of it at the moment.

“It’s important for these players, and the experience Kevin Long and Charlie Taylor are getting is important, to keep maturing and to know what the Premier League is about.

“It’s not just for now. It’s about what we can do next, but of course my focus at the minute is definitely to get the team back to winning ways.

 “It’s an important part of the bigger picture but my job, and the team’s job, is to get back to winning ways and that’s what we have to focus on.”

While the first-team heads to Portugal on Monday for a warm-weather training break, Younger and McNeil are likely to see action next with the under-23s against Birmingham City in Thursday’s training ground fixture in the Professional Development League.

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