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curzon ashton 2 1000x500A year ago this weekend, Burnley’s first team squad was split into two for pre-season friendlies at Alfreton Town and Kidderminster Harriers; tonight, on the same date, we are repeating it with games at Curzon Ashton and Macclesfield Town.

There is no indication as to which players will be involved in which games although it has been confirmed that Sean Dyche will be at Macclesfield as we face one of the Football League’s newest teams with Macc having won the National League last season.

What we do know is that the young players who travelled with the first team squad to Cork will all be involved and there should also be a return for Robbie Brady and Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson. Brady has been back in full training but hasn’t played since he was stretchered off at Leicester in December last year; Guðmundsson returned on Monday this week after being given time off following the World Cup in which he became the first Burnley player to take part since Tommy Cassidy and Billy Hamilton in 1982.

He played in two of their three games, missing the second through injury, and said: “It was an unbelievable experience, something I never thought I was going to do with Iceland. ”

Now back with the Clarets, he said: “I feel fine. It’s tough to come back from the skies. You are obviously up there and taking everything in and then you have a bit of down time and then you go back into pre-season. Then you come into the environment and go into your daily routine, so it’s going to be no problem for me.”

1617 burnley robbie brady 00 500x500The first of our opponents tonight are Curzon Ashton. It’s a familiar place now for us having played a number of our Professional Development League games there last season; that’s something we will be repeating in 2018/19.

Curzon Ashton ended last season in 18th place in the National League North and will kick off their new season two weeks tomorrow with a trip to Darlington. They’ve played three pre-season friendlies to date, drawing at Buxton, losing at home against Oldham and winning 2-0 at Nelson four days ago.

Our other opponents Macclesfield Town had an exciting 2017/18 season, winning the National League by ten clear points and returning to the Football League for the first time since they suffered relegation along with Hereford United in 2012.

Last season’s promotion was won with long serving John Askey as manager but he’s moved on to Shrewsbury in the close season and been replaced by Mark Yates who served Burnley as both player and coach. He was Frank Casper’s final signing for the Clarets in 1991 when he moved from Birmingham but he never fit into Jimmy Mullen’s team and moved on to Doncaster two years later.

He returned in the summer of 2004 as part of Steve Cotterill’s backroom team having played for the new manager at Cheltenham. With Dave Kevan coming in as assistant manager, Yates was named as the new reserve team coach but he doubled up with the first team and, due to a shortage of players, also made the bench on a few occasions while thankfully not being called upon.

Alongside him at Macc is Neil Howarth, another to play at Cheltenham. He made one substitute appearance for Burnley in the final league game of the 1989/90 season at Colchester. Yates can also call upon one former Burnley player. Keith Lowe was with us on loan from Wolves in 2005 and he recently signed a new contract at Macclesfield.

We’ve played Macclesfield previously in the league but we have to go back almost twenty years. We lost the first game 2-1 at Moss Rose. It was a controversial afternoon. The pitch was under water and should not have been played although referee Andy Hall, known as the flood warden, allowed it to go ahead. Andy Cooke was sent off following an incident with Efe Sodje with Burnley manager Stan Ternent furious after the game.

He said: “I think that Sodje shammed the injury and I told him so after the game. He was walking around the bar telling everyone about it on Saturday night after the match. As far as Andy Cooke goes he deserves what he gets because he did stick out an arm and I will be dealing with that, but I’m not convinced there was any contact and there was no need for Sodje to react like that and I’m going to see what can be done about it.”

1718 burnley johann berg gudmundsson 00 500x500It was late March when Macc came to Burnley; they were bottom and we were fighting for our lives. We were 2-0 down with less than quarter of an hour gone. We pulled one back almost immediately and then equalised just before the hour. Macclesfield regained the lead almost immediately but we went on to win 4-3 with a late, late winner from Steve Davis. Glen Little, Tom Cowan and Andy Payton had scored the earlier goals.

Ternent and Sodje were involved in a heated exchange at the final whistle on the pitch and he had words then for Macclesfield boss Sammy McIlroy. “Sammy McIlroy accused me of calling them a pub team,” Stan said. “Never, ever having I called Macclesfield a pub team. I have got the greatest admiration for what he’s done there. I never said that.

“He sparked it off. He’s the manager, he should have dealt with Sodje in my view, he didn’t. I reported it to the PFA And they didn’t do anything either.

” “This is the guy who was in the bar, and I have witnesses to it, after the match bragging that he got Andy Cooke sent off and there was nothing wrong with him. That’s what all that was about and players have long memories.

“I shook hands with Sammy after the game. I have no axe to grind with Sam. He runs his club the way he sees fit and it’s up to him.”

Burnley survived with an unbeaten run of eleven games to end the season; Macclesfield were relegated after just one season at that level.

For tonight’s games – admission is:

Curzon Ashton: £5 adults, £3 concessions and students, free for under-16s

Macclesfield: £10 adults, £5 concessions.

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