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.
Thanks for having us
The Clarets’ first overseas training camp at Under-23 level certainly been a success.
Most importantly, Steve Stone’s young squad has got through some real hard graft to help prepare them physically for the campaign ahead in top-class facilities at the Hotel Remes in Opalenica.
Stone has also been able to start imparting his tactical input during some high intensity football sessions.
And the group – ranging from 16-year-old midfielder Ben Woods to the Clarets’ young professionals and quartet of trialists – has gelled superbly during their downtime in and around the team room, where the food has also been top drawer.
“When you come to somewhere you’ve not been before, you’re always slightly apprehensive of what the facilities are going to be like. But it’s been spot-on and better than expected,” said Stone before signing off with a friendly game against Polish side Pogon Szczecin II on Saturday.
“And the most important thing is the lads have taken to it. They have got on with everything we’ve asked them to do and I’ve sensed as the week has gone on the group has started to come together better because we’ve got some different faces in there.
“We’ve had three or four trialists, which is never easy for them, and we’ve got four or five of the younger boys who’ve stepped up as well.
“We’ve also got Bobby Thomas and Will Harris – and Kai – who have been around the group but have stepped up and it’s new for them, the expectations from being a scholar to now being a professional footballer. And there is a difference with different demands.
“I felt they have all come together, in what we have asked them to do in the football and in the running, so it’s been really pleasing.”
The Hotel Remes has certainly lived up to its billing as a sporting complex.
The place has been a hive of activity and on Friday afternoon hosted two games.
Lech Poznan played a behind-closed doors game on the stadium pitch.
And on pitch one, Vitesse Arnhem played Pogon Szczecin with the Polish side winning 2-1.
Vitesse have spent 12 days here in preparation for the start of the Dutch season, flying home on Saturday. Cabin fever may have set in.
Keep em ‘N’Guessan
Christian N’Guessan is looking to make up for lost time after bad luck with injuries last season.
The midfielder – who joined the Clarets from Blackpool two years ago – required an ankle operation after being injured, and sent off, against Bolton Wanderers in a Professional Development League game last September.
He then saw his comeback curtailed by a hamstring problem towards the end of the campaign after a handful of games back in the Clarets’ engine room.
But the 20-year-old has had his deal renewed this summer and is keen to swiftly get things back on track.
“I was really happy to sign a new contract. Especially after getting injured last season, it could have gone either way,” said N’Guessan.
“It was really frustrating. I thought I was just starting to play well when I got the injury.
“I want to get back to that. This has been a tough week, but I certainly feel better at the end of it.
“At my age, it might be that I go out on loan to play, but I’m just looking forward to whatever comes this season.”
Those found guilty in the ‘kangaroo court’ of spins during the week had to perform their forfeits on Friday.
After a couple of skill spots out on the pitch, the team room took centre stage this evening as the players served their ‘punishments.’
There was some tremendous talent – and excellent sports on show – as the lads sung, danced and joked their way to freedom.
Team spirit at its best.
On me 'Edon
Youth-team defender Edon Pruti has enjoyed his week.
The centre-back (centre, back row below) has seized his opportunity to step up from the under-18s and stake a claim for a place in the U23 squad this season.
And off the field he has also made his presence felt, imposing himself as foreman of the jury in one spin session and showing a nice ear for poetry in the forfeits.
More pertinently, he faces a big season trying to earn a professional deal and possibly help Albania earn a place in next summer's Euro U19 Championships in Northern Ireland.
Top of the table
Table tennis has been another big winner this week as a popular use of leisure time.
And after the phoney war for the past two days it was tournament time on Friday.
More than 20 players and staff went into the draw, organised by entertainments' officer and sport science guru Alex Ouzounoglou.
And after some fierce competition it got down to a three-man final.
Bobby Thomas was the leading ‘Claret’ as he went head-to-head with two trialists.
But the defender couldn’t go all the way, losing out to one of the players hoping to secure a deal.
His identity may be unveiled in due course……….
Home from home
The weather has been perfect for training.
But for those observing, it's been a little cooler than expected.
The sun cream has come out only once and today was wetter than Lancashire.
Let's hope it's raining goals for the Clarets tomorrow.
do widzenia (as they say in Poland)
And that’s it from the postcard. It’s the last day full, with the squad flying home on Saturday night.
Thanks for reading. It’s nearly time for Love Island.