BURNLEY Under-23 boss Steve Stone believes his young defenders will have benefited from the experience of playing alongside Kevin Long.

The Republic of Ireland international played 90 minutes for the Clarets youngsters in a comfortable 2-0 victory over Watford on Monday which keeps alive Burnley's hopes of a top two finish in the Professional Development League.

And Stone believes Long can provide a shining light to the likes of Oliver Younger, who started alongside the 28-year-old, and Bobby Thomas who came off the bench fresh from signing a new contract at Turf Moor.

Stone felt he benefited from the experience of the likes of Des Walker and Stuart Pearce when coming through the ranks at Nottingham Forest as a young player and wants his Clarets youngsters to have similar rewards.

"One of the things that Bobby needs know is guidance," said Stone.

"He gets guidance from me and Faz (Andy Farrell) a lot.

"Longy will give him a different experience and a different voice. Probably a calmer voice and one of assurance and one of a Premier League player. A Premier League player has a feel about him, he has size, strength, speed and a calmness about him. Longy had that in him, he looked like a man and Bobby has to aspire to that and he has the physical attributes to do that.

"He was great in both boxes, he was aggressive, he takes a forward step instead of a backwards step. He challenged for everything.

"He doesn't have to over-complicate things, he just has to head it and learn the game and he will have a real chance but there is a long way to go."

Long was joined in the Clarets Under-23 side by England international Nick Pope who completed 90 minutes as he continues to wait for his chance at first team level.

“It ticks a box for them and for the manager. They play their part and they can add something,” added Stone.

“Our players hear me a lot, so to hear a different voice and an experienced professional is massive and their message is sometimes better than mine – because it comes from a first-team player.

“And I know that, because I listened to messages from the likes of Des Walker and Stuart Pearce over the years.

“As well as the coaches always being there, the message from a first-team player sticks, so that’s really important they came out and did that and both of them were excellent.”