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Burnley captain McCann backs youth stars for big chance at Turf Moor
CHRIS McCann believes the Turf Moor production line is getting stronger, with the next generation of Clarets knocking on the first team door.
Burnley are preparing to take part in the FA Youth Cup semi finals for the first time in over 30 years, after stunning Premier League Academy side Fulham.
A 3-1 quarter final win at Craven Cottage last week earned the young Clarets a two-legged showdown with rivals Blackburn Rovers in the last four of the competition.
First-team captain McCann, himself a product of Burnley’s youth system, has tipped some of the scholars to soon start featuring in manager Eddie Howe’s plans.
The Clarets boss regularly picks the club’s young talent to train with the development squad and the first team, to see first hand who is capable of making the step up.
Midfielder Steven Hewitt has already been handed a professional contract, after he penned a deal until the summer of 2014 back in October. And McCann is confident more will make the breakthrough.
“There’s a good crop of young boys coming through,” he said.
“A lot of them have trained with us lately – players like Stevie Hewitt, Shay McCartan and Joey Jackson. There are a lot of good prospects, which bodes well for the future of the club.”
And McCann says long-serving youth team coach Terry Pashley must be credited for their development.
“He just works to bring the best out of every player at a young age,” said the 24-year-old, who has been at Turf Moor since he was 16.
“His sessions are high tempo and his enthusiasm is unbelievable. He's just a good all-round coach and a good man manager as well.
“He's always produced good players.
“Pash was the one who coached me in the youth team.
“He maybe toughened a lot of people but in a good way because he's only trying to bring the best out of you, which has been rewarded with the boys getting into the semi-final of the FA Youth Cup.
“It's hard to get to that stage of the cup because there are a lot of good teams in it.
“Pash has come a long way as a coach and turned these young guys into good players.”
Former Burnley defender Pashley, who ran the club’s Football in the Community Scheme after hanging up his boots, joined the youth staff almost two decades ago.
As well as McCann, he has been instrumental in the development of a number of other homegrown stars, including Jay Rodriguez, Kyle Lafferty, Richard Chaplow, John Mullin, Chris Brass and Paul Weller.
The 55-year-old took charge of first team affairs with former director of youth Martin Dobson when Owen Coyle left for Bolton Wanderers in January 2010, and on Saturday joined assistant manager Jason Tindall in the dugout in manager Howe’s absence.
“When he came and trained with us in the first team the boys just welcomed him because he's that kind of guy who the lads just gel and bond with,” added McCann.
“He loves football, and his enthusiasm rubs off onto everybody else and everyone else enjoys the game a lot more.
“All credit to him. He's been here a long time and deserves every success that he gets.
“He's a fantastic coach.”
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