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Happy Hunting For Stone

Under-23s' boss pleased with twin challenge in league and cup

12 February 2019

Steve Stone is delighted to see his players competing on two fronts as the Under-23s continue to challenge in league and cup.

The Clarets came from behind to win 4-2 at Bolton on Monday night as they climbed up to second place in the Professional Development League’s northern section.

And they now know victory in their final group game against West Bromwich Albion will book a place in the last 16 of the Premier League Cup.

It’s been an impressive effort in just the Clarets’ second season in the Professional Development League system and a top-two finish in the league’s north group would take Stone’s men into an end-of-season play-off.

The Clarets have seven games to go, including a trip to Hull City on Friday night, with Stone pleased with how his side has bounced back from successive defeats to start 2019.

Ex-England international Steve Stone took charge last November

“The ones that were disappointing were the Barnsley and the Sheffield Wednesday games we lost straight after Christmas,” said the U23s’ boss.

“That’s where the lads couldn’t re-focus after having time off and that’s what happens with young guys.

“But this certainly now gives them something to go for.

“And that’s what you want. You want to be at the sharp end of the stick.

“You want to be playing against Category One teams and I want to test the players and keep testing them.

“And there are some games coming up now which will drive them.”

The Clarets have faced two Category One sides in their cup campaign and are unbeaten in three ties against Liverpool, home and away, and West Bromwich Albion.

An opening defeat to Bournemouth in Group C means Burnley must now beat West Brom in their return meeting to go through after the Baggies and Bournemouth drew 1-1 on Monday night.

Christian N'Guessan returned from a five-month absence against Bolton

And Stone is happy the picture is clear-cut ahead of the decider at Curzon Ashton on Monday, 25 February.

He added: “When you know if you draw the game it’s enough it’s a horrible one to go into. How do you approach it?

“If you know you’ve got to win, you go into it to win the game.

“You don’t go hell for leather, you play it as a normal game, and you try and win it.

“West Brom are a good side, make no bones about it. We hung on for a 2-2 last time and they were really good.

“But we’ll keep our group together. We won’t drop any first-team lads in.

“We’ll keep our group and we’ll develop this team. And win, lose or draw, these boys will have a go.”

The Clarets are also still in the hunt for the Lancashire FA Senior Cup with a semi-final against Rochdale still to be arranged.

The winners will meet Blackburn Rovers, who booked their place in the final for the first time since 2011 by beating Accrington Stanley on penalties.

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