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clarke mcneil koikiFollowing on from last week’s news that Oliver Younger has signed a professional deal with the Clarets comes further good news with three more young players signing on the dotted line to stay at Burnley Football Club.

Two of those players, James Clarke (left) and Dwight McNeil (centre), are, like Younger, second year scholars and both have committed to a longer stay.

McNeil, who travelled to Swansea with the first team in February, has signed a two year deal with an option for a third year while defender Clarke’s first professional contract is for one year with an option for a second year.

“It’s always been a dream to be a professional footballer,” Clarke said. “Even though I’ve played football all my life to finally say ‘I’m a professional footballer’ means a lot. Obviously I’m not there yet, though. I’ve got a long way to go and hopefully I can kick on next season.

“I think I’ve improved a lot from last season. Playing under Duffo improved me and playing under him again as the under-23 manager has allowed me to push on. Playing right-back and centre-back I’ve been able to develop in both positions.”

McNeil, playing either wide or behind the striker has caught the eye this season in the under-23 team. He said after signing the deal: “I think it’s been a better season than I expected, being with the under-23s regularly, and training with the first team.

“When you get the chance to do that and see that, you realise it’s something you want to do for the rest of your life.”

Ali Koiki (pictured right) joined the club during last season and won a deal to move into the under-23s for this season. Like Clarke, he’s been given a further year with a one year option.

“I’m very happy,” he said. “It’s a big thing coming from where I’ve come from. It’s another step and I just want to continue to improve. Playing so regularly this season has been a good thing and hopefully next year I can progress and improve myself further.

“To come into a new training ground every day, where everything is modern, is fantastic and this is a really good place to be.”

Here are Up the Clarets we are again delighted at this news and wish James, Dwight and Ali all the very best in the future at Burnley Football Club.

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