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McNeil Ready To Fly The Flag

Clarets youngster hungry to help young Lions defend title

29 May 2019

Dwight McNeil is relishing the prospect of a first taste of tournament football as an England player as he puts the cap on an outstanding season.

The Clarets’ teenager took the Premier League by storm as he helped Burnley turn their fortunes around to finish 15th in the table.

McNeil scored three times in 19 top-flight starts for Sean Dyche’s side as he came of age as a first-team player.

And beyond Turf Moor, the emergence of the 19-year-old wideman has been further recognised at international level with a place in the England Under-20 squad to take part in the Maurice Revello (Toulon) Tournament in South-East France.

McNeil Rose England.jpg

McNeil is part of a 21-man party selected by Paul Simpson for the prestigious 12-team tournament – now in its 47th year – which takes place from 1-15 June.

And the former Clarets’ Academy youngster is excited by the prospect of helping the young Lions try and win the title for the fourth year in a row.

“Again, it’s a new experience for me. It’s something to look forward to and hopefully I’ll take it in my stride,” said McNeil, who made his debut for the Under-20s in a March friendly against Poland.

“Playing tournament football against different types of teams will be something completely different.

“I think we have one or two new faces in the squad, and it will be good to be involved again.

“You want to keep pushing yourself and you never know what can happen in the future.

England U20 debut March 2019.jpg

“I know England have won the tournament for the last two or three years. People might say that creates pressure, but I don’t think so.

“It just gives you an incentive to try and win it again.”

England have been drawn in a Group A and will face Japan on 1 June, Portugal on 4 June and Chile on 8 June.

The group winners will go through to the semi-finals, along with the other two group winners and the best runners-up from a tournament which also involves Brazil, France, Guatemala, Qatar, Bahrain, China, Mexico and the Republic of Ireland.

McNeil reported for duty last Saturday to fly out to France to begin preparations.

He has used the time since the end of the Clarets’ Premier League campaign on 12 May to “chill out and let his mind relax.”

McNeil goal.jpg

But the midfielder is ready to switch back on to write the final chapter of a season that has already exceeded all expectations.

“This is the perfect end. It’s been an amazing season – life-changing really,” McNeil added.

“Looking back at it, I was playing regularly for the Under-23s and then after playing at Sheffield United just before Christmas I didn’t play again.

“I got the chance in the first team and I think I took it. It was a great second half of the season.

“But it’s only a start. I’ve got to build on it again next season.

“Playing over the summer will be another experience and it should also help me come back fitter when I come back to Burnley. It’s win-win.”

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