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Young Guns Keep Clarets Firing

U23s' boss Steve Stone delighted with forward momentum as Koiki bags three

16 September 2019

Steve Stone praised the versatility of hat-trick man Ali Koiki and his young strikeforce as the in-form Under-23s extended their unbeaten start to the season.

Koiki bagged all three goals in a 3-1 win over Ipswich Town which made it-back-to-back Professional Development League victories for the Clarets.

The left-side played converted twice from the penalty spot before completing the first treble of his career and now has six goals for the campaign.

“Ali getting three goals is a real positive, after getting two last week as well,” said Stone.

Koiki third goal.jpg

“He can play left-back, wing-back or play up, which gives him great options for us and for him to go out on loan, hopefully when January comes.

“I’ve told Ali he’s got to be strong until Christmas, so people come and watch him and say ‘we want to take him’.”

Koiki’s taste of first-team action in pre-season – as well as a loan spell at League Two Swindon Town last season – made the 20-year-old the Clarets’ most experienced player, bar ex-Bury full-back Ryan Cooney.

Eight of Ipswich’s line-up have gained first-team experience from their time at Portman Road but they were no match for a Burnley side spear-headed by 16-year-old frontmen Lewis Richardson and Joe McGlynn with 17-year-old Ne-Jai Tucker on the wing.

“I think they set the tone,” added Stone. “They realised it was going to be a tough afternoon after about 10 minutes and then they got to grips with it and realised that they were okay, but let’s have a go at them and not be frightened off them.

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“Respect them but put themselves up against them and I thought that they did that and grew into the game and had good middle halves to the game, with Ni-Jai (Tucker).

“Ni-Jai grew into the game. It’s his second game and so for the youth coming through I’m absolutely delighted.

“I like to see the youth coming through to challenge the ones that are already there, and it gives your squad something to think about.

“That’s what they’ve done. They’ve taken the opportunity and I’m delighted for them.”

Richardson shot.jpg

The Clarets have now started the season with a six-game undefeated run, which has put them among the early pace-setters in the northern group, and Stone is pleased to see his side getting a fitting reward.

 “We definitely deserve more points than we have on the board,” said the U23s’ boss.

“I keep trying to get the lads to believe in themselves and it’s finally coming. Hard work pays off.”

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