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cork 1000x500Burnley’s first team, under-23s and under-18s all kick off their pre-seasons over the next two days with the first team starting it all off at Turner’s Cross tonight with a game against Cork City.

It’s not the first time Sean Dyche has taken his Burnley squad to Cork for pre-season training and a game against the local club; the previous occasion was five years ago and his first summer as Burnley manager. That week’s training ended with a 3-0 win. Danny Ings scored the first goal, the second was netted by a trialist called Scott Arfield while Sam Vokes claimed the third from Keith Treacy when he suggested that Treacy’s shot had clipped his backside. Treacy conceded it was Sam’s goal. “It’s a very big arse,” he said.

Steve Cotterill once told me that taking the squad to the same place in successive years can be a mistake because it is too familiar for the players. It was what he did in 2004 and 2005 to a training camp in Austria. Dyche did likewise in Evian but not many of the squad will recall the previous training camp at Fota Island or the game at Cork; only Tom Heaton, Kevin Long and Ben Mee remain from those who featured in 2013.

It’s worth looking back at the team who played in that game. We lined up: Tom Heaton, Kieran Trippier (Luke O’Neill 64), Kevin Long (Alex Coleman 84), Jason Shackell (Michael Duff ht), Ben Mee (Danny Lafferty 20), Ross Wallace (George Porter 64), Brian Stock (Keith Treacy ht), Steven Hewitt, Scott Arfield, Danny Ings (David Jones 75), Charlie Austin (Sam Vokes ht). Sub not used: Nick Liversedge.

A lot has happened since then. In those five years we’ve had two promotions, securing 93 Championship points both times, had three seasons in the Premier League and we’re now looking forward to a third successive season in the top flight coupled with European football at Turf Moor for the first time in 52 seasons.

The players have been back in training since the beginning of last week with no new signings as yet while there are a couple of players missing due to their World Cup involvement. After a week at Gawthorpe it all moved to Fota Island and they’ve even had to come through what is now well known as Gaffer’s Day. It was there in 2013 that this tough day first surfaced with the now infamous tractor tyres.

The squad who have travelled are: Tom Heaton, Anders Lindegaard, Adam Legzdins, Conor Mitchell, Matt Lowton, Charlie Taylor, Phil Bardsley, Stephen Ward, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Kevin Long, Jimmy Dunne, Jack Cork, Jeff Hendrick, Steven Defour, Ashley Westwood, Aiden O’Neill, Robbie Brady, Aaron Lennon, Dwight McNeil, Sam Vokes, Ashley Barnes, Chris Wood, Jonathan Walters, Nahki Wells, Dan Agyei.

I’m sure a lot of those players will get some game time tonight. That was the case five years ago when we’d already played one game at Morecambe. The pre-season will be different this time with the Europa League games getting underway two weeks today but there will be three further public games plus two behind closed doors before we face Aberdeen.

Dyche has confirmed that he will give most of the travelling squad some minutes on the pitch although that will certainly exclude Steven Defour and potentially Robbie Brady, the two players returning from long term injuries.

The manager explained: “Steven Defour has a niggly calf, so we are being careful with that one, and, maybe Robbie. We will have to be careful with Robbie. He’s going really well but it is still early in his progress. He is training with the team and he’s enjoying that.

“They are probably the only two we will be careful with. Everyone else should play some form of football. No one will have to play ninety minutes. We’ve got enough players for that not to happen. If the numbers are good probably the most anyone will play will be sixty minutes and most of them will play forty-five. It’s just about them getting that competitive feel of a game so we will look at that and use it wisely and then build on it next week.”

Our opponents Cork have already played this week. A year ago we met Shamrock Rovers a day after they’d played in the Europa League whereas Cork played three days ago in the Champions League against Legia Warsaw, losing the first leg 1-0 at home.

Having won the title last year, they are currently in second place in the SSE Airtricity League, four points behind leaders Dundalk. Their best known player to us is Damien Delaney. He’s from Cork and started his career with them before moving to England where he played for eight clubs; the most recent is Crystal Palace where he has spent the last six seasons. He signed in June but has had to wait until their transfer window opened before making a second Cork debut; that came in the Legia Warsaw game.

He’s not expected to play tonight with Cork set to make a number of changes whilst the Clarets take that first step back onto the pitch ahead of the new season that kicks off competitively in 13 days time at Aberdeen.

With the Europa League to come, Up the Clarets have been forced to give tonight’s game a miss, but we’ll be there when the under-18s and under-23s kick off on Saturday against Fleetwood and Colne respectively.

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