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The under-23s will be the first Burnley team to kick off the new season this weekend with an away game this weekend against Millwall to be played at The Den.

There are nine games in the Professional Development League this week with ours the only one being played today which gives us the honour of kicking off the season at Millwall and it’s a game that coach Steve Stone is very much looking forward to.

1819 burnley steve stone 01 500x500Stone, who was appointed in November last year to replace Michael Duff who had moved to Cheltenham in September, is ready to kick start his first full season in charge. “I’m looking forward to it starting,” he said. “It’s the same as any manager, coach and player, after four weeks you want to start and here we go it’s coming on Friday.

“It’s at The Den and Millwall will be a physical side. Our boys need to know they need to be ready for that challenge, which we have prepared them for in pre-season. The winning mentality is important but, as coaches, we want to see them progress bit by bit and hopefully that’s what I’m going to see in the Millwall game from what we’ve tried to do in pre-season.”

It’s been a mixed pre-season with defeats against Stalybridge and Lancaster alongside three wins, but the toughest of the games, against Cheltenham’s first team, ended in a victory for Stone who was able to call upon such as Josh Benson, Jimmy Dunne and Ali Koiki that afternoon.

We are still to collect a first point against Millwall in this league. Two seasons ago we were beaten 2-1 at The Den while last season, on the day Duff accepted the Cheltenham job, they beat us by the same score at Turf Moor with a last minute winner.

Tinashe Chakwana scored our goal on both occasions but he won’t be involved tomorrow having been released. He’s still looking for a club having spent the pre-season with Sunderland.

That first defeat against them, in April 2018, came in a run in that saw us win the other five games of the final six as we avoided finishing bottom of the league. Only goalkeeper Conor Mitchell, defender James Clarke and Chakwana from that starting eleven are no longer with the club. They played alongside Benson, Mace Goodridge and Rob Harker that day who were all, at the time, on trial.

Back to today. Kick off is at 1 p.m. Millwall have confirmed that tickets will be available on the day for the executive lounge, priced at £5 adults and £1 for under-16s.

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