MICHAEL Duff has helped implement the 'vision' of what it means to play for Burnley into the Clarets Academy.

That is the view of Academy boss Jon Pepper, who admits replacing the 40-year-old is going to be a difficult ask after Duff took his first steps in management this week by taking the Cheltenham Town job.

Duff made 383 appearances for Burnley after joining from the Robins for just £30,000 in 2004, and after retiring in the summer of 2016 he moved into the coaching ranks, spending a year with the youth team before taking over the development squad.

Pepper believes Duff's history at Turf Moor and his knowledge of what it means to play for the club has been a major asset for the Academy.

"He's been massive. Having someone who has been a player at the club and involved in the club for such a long time, knowing how the gaffer works, has been massive for the lads," Pepper said.

"For him to come in to the academy after his career has been huge for the staff as well.

"I'm new to the club and he's really educated some of the staff in what it means to represent Burnley Football Club, the culture, the expectations and the values. He's really helped to implement that.

"That vision now transcends further down in to the Academy. I have to really thank him for that because he's really educated me.

"He's been great with the lads, he's very humble, you'd never think that he'd played in the Premier League. I think the lads and the staff have really learned from him and we wish him all the best."

Duff was committed as a player, winning three promotions to the Premier League with the Clarets, and he has taken many of those qualities into coaching.

"He's very committed as a coach, very passionate, but very level-headed," Pepper said.

"He doesn't get over-emotional, which you can do as a coach, whether it's a good performance or a bad performance. He really sees the bigger picture.

"He helps develop players, which is essential at this level. The group had a tough time in periods last year but he really stuck to his task because he knew there was a bit more to it than results at under 23s level.

"He's been a massive part of this and I don't know how we're going to replace him at this level. We're going to have to find somebody to do that.

"He's been a massive part of Burnley and Burnley has been a massive part of him. Good luck to him, he's essentially going back home, which is great for him and we wish him every success."

Duff began his playing career at Whaddon Road and now returns to Cheltenham to begin his managerial career and Pepper hopes he gets the time to put his influence on the club.

"I just hope he gets the time and the patience because managers don't seem to get that," he said.

"He needs that to put his own stamp on things at Cheltenham because he's inheriting other peoples' players. He's not had a pre-season so it's going to be a bit of a baptism of fire. I just hope he gets the time to do what he needs to do."