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Burnley FC blog: Clarets reserve the right over second string
NEWS that Burnley were to pull out of the Central Reserve League was no great surprise.
In recent years the level of competition was only any good during the Clarets’ season in the Premier League, and even then they weren’t always up against recognised senior professionals. It was just a better standard of youth team players and young pros.
Fans got to see the likes of Jay Spearing just before he broke into the Liverpool first team.
For another Jay – Rodriguez – it proved a useful exercise too, as three goals in the first two reserve games of the 2010/11 season brought him into then manager Brian Laws’ reckoning.
A few days after impressing against Accrington Stanley’s second string, and scoring twice, he was brought off the bench in the derby with Preston at Turf Moor, hit the winner, and the rest – as they say – is history.
Reserve team football served a similar purpose for Danny Ings.
When the striker made his comeback from injury in January, it was a goalscoring performance against Preston at Chorley’s Victory Park – his first game in a Burnley shirt – that made fans sit up and take notice of the striker they had signed some five months before.
Ings went on to break into the first team and end the campaign with three Championship goals.
But generally speaking, when it comes to reserve games, the novelty must soon wear off when you’re toiling away at that level game in, game out with barely a sniff of senior action.
So it is no great loss to, like neighbours Preston, pull out of a diminishing competition.
Facing the likes of Macclesfield and Wrexham’s fringe players is not a sufficient challenge to young professionals like Wes Fletcher and Steven Hewitt. It’s certainly not going to benefit Burnley in their quest to unearth the next Jay Rodriguez, which surely is the next challenge now for the youth department, whose resources were stretched last season with the number of youth and second string games they were involved in.
One downside to no longer participating in the Central League is losing that competitive edge. Behind-closed-doors games, or practice matches that are opened to the public, don’t have points at stake – or even the crowds. Even though attendances weren’t great in number fans still welcomed the opportunity to see the new kids on the block.
But on the plus side they will be organised by manager Eddie Howe, and no doubt tailored to the needs of his squad. That surely has to be a good thing.
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