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Philliskirk: 'We're Lacking Leaders'

U18s boss questions mentality after leaking more goals

9 April 2019

Tony Philliskirk admitted his young side is lacking leaders after the Under-18s relinquished another lead to slip to a second defeat in three games.

The Clarets have seen their top-two hopes in the northern section of the U18 Professional Development League disappear on the back of a return of just four points in four games.

And after losing 4-3 at home to Queens Park Rangers, having led 3-1 early in the second half, Philliskirk expressed his disappointment at the Clarets’ soft centre.

“I’ve probably spoken to the lads more after the game today than I have in any other game since I’ve been here because that’s the third time now we’ve been two goals ahead in a game and conceded,” said the U18s’ boss.

“We’ve lost two of those games and only got a point in another one.

“I said to them that the problem, in my opinion, is the mentality.

“While things are going well it’s all okay and going forward we were very good. We scored three and could have scored more.

“But as soon as they concede a goal, it’s like panic sets in and then they’re all looking for each other.

“We do seem to go under a bit, which is a little bit worrying.”

Two goals from Will Harris saw Burnley lead at the break – following an early penalty for QPR – and Ne-Jai Tucker then increased the advantage early in the second half.

But having conceded six times in the second half to Birmingham City a week ago, the Clarets shipped three goals in just over half an hour to leave the Hoops heading south with the points.

“We really lack leaders in the group. It’s something I have identified and said among the staff for a while, they are very much a group of individuals,” added Philliskirk, who is picking a side almost exclusively of first-year scholars and schoolboys after eight second-years were told they would be released last month.

“The Burnley way is about team spirit and, going forward, we now need to put a programme in place where we do some things for the mentality of the players and work on team stuff.

“When the going gets tough, one or two of them seem to disappear and when there’s a little bit of adversity I’m looking for some leaders on the pitch and there aren’t many.

“I know they’re a young group, but those first years are coming towards the end of the season and they had the benefit of observing and working with some fantastic second years who didn’t get anything (contract-wise).

“They have had the benefit of seeing how everything needs to be done and we don’t have many in this group. It’s a very individual team.

“For me, it’s something I need to look at and work on in preparation for next season – how are we going to mould them better into a team?

“There are some good players in there and I know we are about developing individuals. But those individuals have to flourish in a team environment. As we know, Burnley Football Club is built on that.”

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