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PREVIEW: Stalybridge Celtic v Burnley U23s

First domestic action for young Clarets as boss Steve Stone raises the stakes

17 July 2019

The Under-23s continue their pre-season build-up tonight (Wednesday) with a trip to Stalybridge Celtic (KO 7.45pm).

Steve Stone’s side completed their training camp in Poland with a 2-1 win over Pogon Szczecin last Saturday.

And the U23s' boss is looking to keep progressing against BetVictor Northern Premier League top-flight side Celtic in a pre-season schedule designed to present a more searching build-up to the Professional Development League season and beyond.

“That’s the next test and we’ve got some really tough tests this year in terms of pre-season games with the likes of Cheltenham coming up,” said Stone.

“We have really upped the level in terms of pre-season games from the other years and that’s what we are trying to do – better players and better tests to produce better players for the first team.”

Harker goal.jpg

Rob Harker scored the opening goal as the Clarets won in Poland

Stone is over-seeing his first pre-season with the Clarets, having replaced Cheltenham-bound Michael Duff to take charge of the U23s last November.

And the former England international is stamping his mark on the build-up as he strives to increase the flow of players towards the senior set-up.

“I tailor it to what I want,” Stone added. “Sport science will bring the science to it, which is right, to protect the players to warn me if they are doing too much – or if they’re not doing enough.

“That’s what they’re there for and Ouzo (Alex Ouzounoglou) is very good at it.

“But in terms of the pre-season, it’s what I want – the types of football we do, the running drills we do are mine really.

“And they have to be because I’ve got to put the team out there and I’ve got to answer to that, so it’s got to come from me.

Steve Stone instructions.jpg

“I’ve also been around the gaffer long enough, and Woany and Tony, to know what they want.

“And really my message is very similar to the gaffer’s message in terms of what we’re trying to do here.

“The message is they work hard and they have to be a Burnley-type player.

“And we will mix our play up a little bit. We’ll try and do exactly when the first team do and, for me, the message has to be that way.

“Continuity is to try and play like them and get players through like we have in the first team.”

The Clarets go to Stalybridge for the second summer running following a 3-0 win at Bower Fold last July.

Admission to the game is £6 and £3 concessions.

Under-23s’ pre-season fixtures:

Stalybridge Celtic (A) – Wed, 17 July (7.45pm)

Bamber Bridge (A) – Wed, 24 July (7.45pm)

Cheltenham Town (A) – Sat, 27 July (3pm)

Curzon Ashton (A) – Wed, 31 July (7.45pm)

Connah’s Quay Nomads (H) Sat, 3 Aug (11:30am)

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