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Ali Enjoys Tameside Link

Back to the day job after first taste of Premier League away-day for teenager

6 November 2018

Ali Koiki enjoyed an eventful 72 hours after going from the London Stadium to the Tameside Stadium as part of his on-going Clarets’ journey.

The teenage defender is a regular in the left-back berth for Burnley’s under-23s, helping them record a 4-1 win over Barnsley at Curzon Ashton on Monday afternoon.

And just two days earlier, he was with the Clarets for their Premier League game at West Ham after being elevated to the travelling first-team squad for the first time.

“It’s been a crazy experience and I was just happy to be involved,” said Koiki, who boarded the train south as defensive cover after Phil Bardsley joined Stephen Ward on the injured list.

“I found out after training on the Friday. It was last-minute and before I knew it, I was on the way to the train station.

“It was a big surprise for me. The manager said just enjoy it and do your thing and just try and get a taste of it.”

Koiki didn’t make it as far as the bench for the Clarets’ 4-2 defeat at the hands of the Hammers, where former youth team colleague Dwight McNeil was named among the Burnley substitutes.

But being part of the set-up was still an eye-opener for the 19-year-old, a powerful player with a sweet left foot who has trained regularly with Sean Dyche’s senior squad since signing a new contract last summer.

“It’s just great being involved and I really enjoyed it,” added the Londoner, who joined the Clarets in 2016 to start two seasons within the youth set-up.

“You don’t realise how hands-on it is. There’s a lot of communication and the intensity is a lot different.

“It’s so obvious they really care about it and getting things right. Hopefully I’ll be involved again at some stage. I’m praying for it.”

Koiki is climbing the career learning curve and was taught a harsh lesson earlier this season when he was sent off for retaliation in a Professional Development League game against Bolton.

Ironically, his unavailability for three under-23 games allowed him to spend more time training with the seniors.

And since returning to action, he has helped the Academy side to a draw and three successive wins to sit third in the PDL’s northern section – Bolton winning on Monday night to move top and push the Clarets back down a place following their victory over the Tykes.

“It was a bit different, but it was good to be back out playing,” said Koiki.

“The Under-23s are doing well and it’s nice to be part of it.

“I’m enjoying every day and taking it on as it goes. I just want to move forward now.”


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