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Clarets Aim To Hit Right Toon In Cup

Under-23s take on Newcastle as top two in PL Cup group meet at Stockport

17 January 2018

The Clarets’ Under-23s hit the cup trail again on Thursday when they take on Newcastle United at Stockport’s Edgeley Park (kick-off 2pm).

The two lead the way in Group D of the Premier League Cup, with Burnley top of the table thanks to a 100 per cent record from two games.

Newcastle have won two out of three, with their only loss a 4-3 defeat to the Clarets at the end of September when Michael Duff’s side came from 2-0 down and then bagged an 89th-minute winner in a seven-goal thriller.

A repeat would put the Clarets in a strong position to claim a top-two finish and a place in the last 16 and the knock-out stages.

But Duff knows it won’t be easy with two games in five days against Newcastle and then Swansea City – who are third in the group – in South Wales next Monday.

“The next two games are tough ones because they are against Category One Academies,” said the under-23s’ boss.

“You know what you are going to be up against in these types of games.

“They are comfortable on the ball and can move it well.

“The game we had against Newcastle, which is the only one we can really reference, we went up there and had a look at them for 60 minutes and thought ‘they’re not bad’ and stood off them and went 2-0 down.

“It was like we then thought ‘why not try and press them, get amongst them and play higher up the pitch?’ and we scored four goals. We’ll take that result again.

“It’s hard work, because they are good on the ball and they have good players.

“The chances are they will be older than us, as most teams are at the minute, so it’s going to be a tough ask.

“But it’s another opportunity for us and it’s a different way of playing we might have to try and find.”

The Clarets have found it tough going in their first season in the Professional Development League and are currently bottom of the northern group.

Rahis Nabi scored the late winner at Newcastle in the first group meeting

But victories over Newcastle and Colchester have given them a chance of progress in the cup and Duff admits this competition is all about trying to win.

“It’s one of the few times we do say we are looking for a result,” he added.

“We talk about performance and the result often comes second, although the result is always important.

“The group we’ve got now is getting younger and younger, so it’s more and more challenging.

“There are signs of a good bit of development. Now this one is little bit different and we flip it on its head, in the respect of we want a performance and a result at the end of it.

“If it means kicking it in the channel in the last five minutes because you’re winning 1-0, we’re quite prepared to do that.”

The Clarets' last scheduled home league game was fogged off in December

With several more senior members of the Academy set-up and under-23 squad out on loan, Duff is largely reliant on members of the youth squad he coached last season and first-year professionals signed last summer.

He will also be without goalkeeper Conor Mitchell against the Geordies after he was sent off in a league defeat to Leeds at the start of the month – the Clarets’ first completed game since 20 November – and defender Alex Whitmore is cup-tied after playing in a qualifying round of the competition on loan at Bury.

Developing a settled side has therefore been difficult, but Duff insists the players who do figure on Thursday afternoon will be prepared.

“Whoever plays will know their roles and responsibilities and what they’re expected to do, and it’s up to them to deliver it,” he said.

Newcastle's under-23s are currently 10th in the Premier League 2 Second Division, with four wins from their 13 games.

They were beaten 4-3 at Norwich last time out after four straight wins in all competitions before Christmas.

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