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Club News

Postcard From Poznan III

The inside story from the U23s' training camp in Poland

10 July 2019

The Under-23s have gone abroad for part of their pre-season preparation for the first time and our daily postcard is bringing the story back home.

Day Three

Junior Choice

The Clarets have five youth-teamers with them on the trip as they look to make a positive impression and force their way more firmly into the thoughts of Under-23s’ boss Steve Stone.

Ben Woods – a 16-year-old midfielder who made his U23 debut last season before signing on as a full-time scholar this summer – is one of them and is taking it all in his stride.

Second-years Chris Conn-Clarke, Matty Rain, Edon Pruit and Mitchell George make up the compliment.

Conn-Clarke started the final game of last season with the U23s – the Lancashire FA Senior Cup Final against Blackburn Rovers.

Chris Conn-Clarke.jpg

And the 17-year-old midfielder is determined to make that a regular occurrence as he heads into a vital season.  

“It’s probably the biggest year of my life because I have been working from such a young age to get a pro (contract) and that’s all I’ve wanted,” said the Northern Irishman, who was delighted to earn his ticket on the plane to Poland.

“I played in the cup final, which was a good ending to the season and it was a nice way to finish after the work I put in.

“There was talk about it coming on this trip at the end of last season and during the off-season I worked hard and came back fit and a bit bigger and that has paid off.

“I want to play for the U23s this season if I can, although with the Youth Cup for the U18s I want to have an involvement with that.”

Recruited from Glentoran – where he played first-team football at the age of 16 – Conn-Clarke had to bide his time at the start of last season until international clearance was received.

Chris Conn.jpg

But when the chance came, he impressed in a central or wide position to earn the captain’s armband in the under-18s and his promotion to a place in Stone's plans.

And with 12 months left to try and fulfill his ambition of moving into the professional ranks, Conn-Clarke has a role model close at hand to try and follow.

“Dwight (McNeil) didn’t have a good first year as a scholar and you look at the number of first-team games he has played, so everything is possible,” added the Belfast boy, who also has the target of representing his country when they host the European U19 Championships next summer.

“I want to keep doing the best I can, working hard and I want to be starting that first game of the season for the U23s.”

Park Life

Wednesday was a chance to get out of camp and switch off from the physical routine.

But there was no room for tired minds in a series of team-building exercises at Pyrland Park in Poznan.

Plank walking.jpg

The lads split into four teams in a series of drills designed to test their logic and group dynamics.

The results were mixed, to say the least.

But the competitive spirit made it a full-on couple of hours and contributed to the final league table counting wins for the week – on and off the pitch.

Brains Trust

Talking of mental dexterity, the annual quiz hosted by sports science guru Alex Ouzounoglou took place after evening meal.


‘Ouzo’ stayed up until 1am the previous night working on his masterpiece.

And he certainly tested the grey matter with some searching questions across six varied rounds.

Thankfully, there proved to be no substitute for experience as the staff team came out on top. Natural order restored.

Making a splash

Lunch during the day's activities at Poznan was provided at the smart 3 Kolory cafe and restaurant.

The eatery overlooks an impressive rowing venue - The Lake Regatta Course - used last month for a World Rowing Cup II Event.


Rowing is big in Poland, with the first club opened in Poznan in 1904.

Top table

There’s a decent choice of leisure activities at the complex for down-time, with a bowling alley, swimming pool, pool tables and a driving range.

Table tennis in the team room is proving as popular as any.

It has to finish by 10pm, though. The table is blocking the big screen and then it’s Love Island time.

Some things, it appears, are sacred.

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