Suzanne Geldard Column: Pashley helps to find a pathway

Lancashire Telegraph: Terry Pashley Terry Pashley

SPORTING heroes were recognised this weekend through the BBC’s 60th Sports Personality of the Year award.

At Burnley there have been plenty of unsung heroes this season.

Terry Pashley is one of them – not just this season, but plenty of others that have gone before.

A modest man, he would be loathe to take the limelight.

But Burnley’s youth team has become one that has begun to consistently punch above its weight with him at the helm.

Twelve months ago they knocked Manchester United out of the FA Youth Cup. At Old Trafford.

And this was just weeks after combining that role with senior duties – steadying the ship in between Eddie Howe leaving and Sean Dyche arriving.

Pashley’s proteges were given an equally tough assignment in the next youth cup round, away to Manchester City, where hopes of emulating the previous season’s run to the semi-finals were ended.

The youngsters gave a good account of themselves though, just as they did in their re-match with United at Turf Moor on Monday night.

Some teenagers had already had a taste of it last season. For others it was their first time, but they took to it with confidence, not scared to pass and play, opening United up at times with crisp, one-touch football.

But that’s what Pashley is good at, recognising the ones who are ready for the occasion, getting them fully prepared, and bracing them for the next step in their football development.

He is not on his own, of course. Ex-Clarets player Andy Farrell is a long-term aide, among others.

But Pashley has been a constant at the club for over two decades as a youth coach (longer still if you include his playing days).

He has seen plenty of talent in his time at Turf Moor, from Paul Weller, Chris Brass and John Mullin, to Richard Chaplow, and later Kyle Lafferty and Chris McCann.

Last month he was able to add having a hand in developing a new England international to his CV, with Jay Rodriguez’s Three Lions debut at Wembley.

He will use the club’s poster boy to mentor current and future youth intakes.

In the case of Rodriguez, though, that is the bigger picture.

With a club like Burnley, where transfer budgets are not big, the importance of youth development cannot be underestimated.

Pashley has helped to push players like Steven Hewitt, Cameron Howieson, Alex Coleman and Tom Anderson towards first team territory over the last couple of seasons.

While Danny Ings and Sam Vokes have grabbed the goalscoring headlines this term, on Monday night supporters saw a glimpse of a striking star of the future in Khuis Metz. He is just 15, trains once a week, yet Pashley backed him to perform on the big stage and the schoolboy was unlucky not to convert one of his chances.

Right back Cameron Dummigan has sampled the senior set-up most recently, being named on the bench for the visit of Watford.

The 17-year-old looks a ready-made replacement for Kieran Trippier should the former Manchester City defender move on in the three transfer windows remaining before the end of his current contract.

That pathway to the first team is becoming increasingly pertinent, whether the Clarets make it to the Premier League again or not, and Pashley continues to guide the way.

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