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PREVIEW: Burnley U23s v Liverpool U23s

Clarets aim to feel at home at the 'Bridge' to enhance cup hopes

8 February 2019

The Clarets face Liverpool at Bamber Bridge this afternoon (Friday) looking for a positive result to aid their hopes of progressing in the U23 Premier League Cup.

After launching their Group C campaign with a 7-1 defeat at Bournemouth, Burnley have bounced back with a three-match unbeaten run.

That includes a 1-1 draw at Liverpool in November and if Steve Stone’s side can again take something from the Reds they will go into their final group game with a chance of going through to the last 16.

“When I got here, we had the conversation where we said ‘it’s probably over, this, and we’ll not be able to do anything in it,” said Stone, who took charge of the U23s following the first game at Liverpool.

“But they have done well in the last couple of games and pulled themselves into a position where it’s up to the boys now.

“It’s up them. If they win the last two games they go through.

“We know that’s going to be difficult. But to go far in any cup competition or a group stage, you have to play good teams and you have to be tested against top opposition.

“That’s what we’re doing and that’s what we want. This is like a one-off cup game where you have to be up for it.

“It’s something different and I’m really looking forward to the game. However it goes, I’ll learn a lot about my team and individual players.”  

Defeat at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium would not mathematically end the Clarets’ hopes of reaching the knock-out stages.

But it would make it a long shot with a final group game to come against West Bromwich Albion – who play leaders Bournemouth next Monday night – at Curzon Ashton on Monday, 25 February.

The Clarets beat Bournemouth 4-2 in their last group game

Meanwhile, a win over a Liverpool side which plays in the top flight of Premier League Two would temporarily take the Clarets top of the group.

And while Stone is expecting a difficult game against high-quality opposition, he is looking for his young side to build-on back-to-back wins and take encouragement from the cup draw at Liverpool when the Clarets played for over an hour with 10 men following the dismissal of Jordan Cropper.

“It’s a really good test for us. It’s one that I want, and I hope we can get more,” added the U23s boss, who had a watching brief in the game at Melwood before officially taking charge a few days later.

“Even with 11 men on the pitch they dominated possession. But there are opportunities on the counter-attack.

“We have been doing that well in the last few games and not only will they take encouragement from what they did at Liverpool, but how they played in the last two games, beating Bournemouth who are also technically a good side, and the challenge we had against Birmingham, who are up there in our league.

“We’ve shown two sides to our game, the playing aspect and the physical side we are coping with better, and that will give them the confidence going into today’s game.”

Kick-off at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium is 2pm, with free entry for Burnley and Liverpool season-ticket holders and general admission priced at £4 adults and £2 for over-65s and under-18s.

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