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It’s Monday afternoon, it’s Curzon Ashton day as our under-23s take on Nottingham Forest in the Professional Development League this afternoon.

Steve Stone took over as the new coach last week and today is his first game in charge of the team, working alongside Andy Farrell who is now back with the team having had hip surgery in the summer. And Stone’s first game in charge comes against Nottingham Forest, the club he started his career with and the one most would associate him with having played over 200 league and cup games for them.

1819 burnley steve stone 01 500x500He has taken over a team without the services, currently, of two midfielders. Christian N’Guessan will be out until the New Year having had surgery on an ankle injury sustained in the win against Bolton, while Mace Goodridge has recently had surgery for a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament.

Also missing today will be full back Jordan Cropper . He was very harshly sent off for supposedly handling the ball in the Premier League Cup tie at Liverpool eight days ago and will serve his one match ban.

Birmingham’s win over Leeds last Friday has taken us down a place in the table to fourth, but it has also given us an opportunity, with a win today, to move to the top, if only briefly. A win would see us go back above Birmingham. It would also take us a point clear of Leeds and move us above current leaders Bolton on goal difference although Bolton would go back up there tonight with either a win or a draw.

Forest go into the game in seventh place, but it is a tight table and you only need to look to see it is Hull who are bottom, the one team who have beaten us at Curzon Ashton this season.

This game last season brought us a much needed win. Played on the 8th March, it was our first victory in the league since the previous November. We’d been on a run of five consecutive defeats which had seen us drop to the bottom of the table. Our goalscorers on that occasion were Tunde Bayode, N’Guessan and James Clarke.

Michael Duff said after the win: “The performances have got better in the last few weeks and tonight I thought we were excellent from minute one. It looked like it clicked a bit and I think the shape gave us an opportunity to express ourselves.”

Kick off this afternoon is 2 p.m.

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