MICHAEL Duff has hailed wing wizard Dwight McNeil as Burnley Under-23s continue a busy run of fixtures with a trip to Birmingham City today (1pm).

The Clarets are again seeking to move off the bottom of the Professional Development League and they could make it three unbeaten if they avoid defeat at the Blues' Wast Hills training ground.

After thrashing Colchester United 4-0 in the Premier League Cup last Thursday Duff's side shared six goals with Huddersfield at Turf Moor on Monday, with McNeil netting twice and setting the other goal up in a thrilling encounter.

The left-footed 17-year-old as emerged a key figure for Duff's side this season, playing for the under-23s ahead of the under-18s, and the former Clarets defender sees plenty of potential in the former Manchester United youngster, who has already trained with Sean Dyche's senior squad.

"Dwight is a good player, he was a good player last year. He was a first year last year with the 18s with me and you can see he's got ability," Duff said.

"It's about honing that and channelling it in the right direction, keeping his feet on the ground. He's scored a couple of goals in front of a Turf Moor crowd of about 100, ideally we want him scoring goals in front of a Turf Moor crowd of 25,000. That's the key.

"He's trained with the first team a few times this year so he just needs to keep going the way he's going. There are things that we've asked from him, the first team staff have seen him, relayed things back to him, and he's taking it on.

"It's hard to have a career in football now with the money coming in to the game, foreign imports filtering all the way down. You look at some League One and League Two squads now and some of the players that they've got playing at that level now makes it tough. However, it's not just about ability it's about mentality."

McNeil is still a second year scholar at Turf Moor but he is catching the eye at the Barnfield Training Centre.

"He’s still a scholar, he’s still in the under-18s but he’s hardly played a game for them this season, unfortunately for them and luckily for us," Duff said.

"He’s got good delivery in his left foot and he’s got a hammer in there as well. If you get him in the right areas you always fancy him."

Today's clash with the Blues is a third game in eight days for Burnley, but Duff added: "The physical levels looked really good at the end. We looked like we could keep going and going.

"It’s hard work, if you want to be a footballer it’s going to be hard work and they’ve delivered that."