Promising signs below the senior heirarchy

Conor Mitchell, right, warms up with Matt Gilks at Hull City on Boxing Day
Conor Mitchell, right, warms up with Matt Gilks at Hull City on Boxing Day
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Three of Burnley’s Development Squad extended their contracts last week.

And Sean Dyche feels the addition of a number of Under 21 players over the summer has “upgraded” the level below the first team.

Prolific striker Ntumba Massanka, wide man Brad Jackson and goalkeeper Conor Mitchell all signed new terms after impressing the Turf Moor heirarchy.

Those three were already on the club’s books, before plans were made for an annual budget for the Development Squad.

Over the close season, Burnley brought in five signings for that level, AFC Wimbledon striker Daniel Agyei, Shrewsbury Town winger Josh Ginnelly, Derby County midfielder Luke Hendrie, Arsenal midfielder Renny Smith, and Everton right back Arlen Birch.

Dyche is delighted with how the group are progressing: “There are a few who are showing really good signs, we’ve been really happy with that group.

““They’re going really well, I’m not going to say who, but the group are going well in general - there is a good demand within the group and a lot of good signs.

“We’ve definitely raised the level of that group, and that, in turn, knocks on to the other players, which is what we wanted, that increased demand, which upgrades everything.

“If you bring players in from the outside, it doesn’t always guarantee anything, but if you think you’re improving the quality, the ones already in the building have to challenge that, and they already know about the first team.

“These players are getting first team action, as regards training, so, on any given day there could be as many as three come over with the first team, and that is great for them.

“That can only benefit them, playing with and against first team players.”

Jackson and Mitchell have made the first team bench this season, while several others have joined in training with the senior side: “It’s on merit and, on the other hand, when they may be having a quieter time and you need to give them the reality of it - this is where you are, this is where you have to come up to - sometimes it’s positional meets merit, on what we and the group need.

“We don’t pick them willy nilly, there will be a specific reason why, we get them in in their slots, ones we think are at the top end of that younger group, and who they are challenging against.

“We used to do that at Nottingham Forest, go and play with or against those who are in your position.

“With the finance improved, we can now bring layers, but they have to be challenging.

“It has to be encouraged to challenge into the first team squad, and I think we have that at the moment.”