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alfreton 1000x500It’s just a week since Burnley’s pre-season programme got underway with a 4-0 win against League of Ireland club Shamrock Rovers and it continues tomorrow when the first team split to face National League North clubs Alfreton Town and Kidderminster Harriers.

Supporters at Tallaght Stadium a week ago saw all three new signings in action during the first half with manager; Charlie Taylor and Jack Cork played the entire first half while Jonathan Walters played around 35 minutes.

Tomorrow, however, there will be no guarantees who we see with no clues having been given as to which players will feature at Alfreton and which at Kidderminster as the first and under-23 teams combine in a split that, as far as I know, is unique to Burnley, certainly since the 1960s when the curtain raiser at Turf Moor used to be Clarets v Whites as first team and reserves combined in two teams to play against each other.

The only thing we know with any certainty is that manager Sean Dyche will be at the Alfreton although it does appear most supporters prefer the option of travelling to Kidderminster.

Our opponents had contrasting seasons in 2016/17. Alfreton finished in 18th place but a clear seven points away from relegation while Kidderminster enjoyed an excellent season.

They finished second behind AFC Fylde before then going out in the play-offs against Chorley who had won their place in the end of season knock out only because Darlington’s ground doesn’t meet the required needs for the National League.

Both clubs have been in the National League in recent years. Alfreton were relegated in 2015 but Kidderminster were close to returning just a year after relegation, this a club who enjoyed a five year run in the Football League before suffering relegation alongside Cambridge in 2005.

It’s been all change at Alfreton in the last year. Nicky Law was manager there for almost a decade but left early this year to join the academy department at Burnley to oversee the recruitment of players from 16 to 23. His replacement has since moved on and new owners have appointed former Grimsby full back John McDermott as the new manager and he’s brought in 16 new players, the most recent being goalkeeper Chris Elliott from Harrogate Town who arrived yesterday.

Their pre-season is well underway. They kicked off at the start of July with a home win against Swanwick Pentrich Road and have since lost at the Impact Arena against teams Nottingham Forest, Sheffield Wednesday and Rotherham while beating Halifax as they build up to a home game against Blyth in two weeks time to start their league season.

Kidderminster, meanwhile, kick off against the Chorley team that ended their promotion hopes in May.

They too have added a goalkeeper this week in Brandon Hall, an England C player, and they’ve also landed an ex-Claret this week with Mark Yates, who left his coaching role at Burnley to manage Kidderminster in 2006, returning to Aggborough as under-23 manager.

Manager is former Coventry, Stoke, Watford and Derby midfielder John Eustace who played against Burnley as recently as March 2014 in our 2-0 home win against Derby on the way to our promotion to the Premier League but he’s well known to Sean Dyche from his days at Watford and he made 39 league appearances in the season Dyche was in charge at Vicarage Road.

Last season was Eustace’s first in management. He was strongly linked with the Oxford job in the summer which was vacated by Michael Appleton who has moved to Leicester, but he remains at Aggborough and this season he’ll be hoping to go one better and win promotion for Kidderminster.

Clarets’ boss Dyche explained the reasoning behind the two games at the same time. He said: “We will break the group up to the two different games and we will be looking for more game time for them.

“We recognise our main first team squad. A few of the younger players will travel with us, but we are looking to get good minutes into the first team players. What you always search for is to get minutes into the players. In most sports you can train for it, but the actual event is always the main thing, and that has a slightly different effect on the body and the mind, so you can never quite replicate games.

“We just thought this year we would split the groups and try and get more minutes in one go, than that idea of 45s and 60s etc., which we normally do with a split where one group will start one game and the opposite group will start the next.

“This time we decided to get 45 minutes into them in Dublin and then get back and split the group. Not all will get a total game but there will be a lot on Saturday, as long as it goes well, will get a 90 minutes.”

Both games kick off tomorrow at 3 p.m. and Up the Clarets will be at Aggborough for the game against Kidderminster.

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