Burnley strengthen Under 23 squad ahead of Premier League 2 campaign

As Burnley prepare to play Premier League 2 football after earning Category One status, the club have strengthened their Under 23 squad with the arrival of four new signings.
Four new faces join the Under 23 squadFour new faces join the Under 23 squad
Four new faces join the Under 23 squad

Burnley have brought in goalkeeper Marc Richter, midfielder Will Rickard and defenders Marcel Elva-Fountaine and Connor Barrett on initial 12-month deals.

And striker Rob Harker, 20, has signed a new contract to extend his stay at Turf Moor for a further year.

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Richter, 20, arrives from German club Augsburg and signs following a successful trial spell in July.

Rickard, 18, is a Wales youth international who joins the Clarets after leaving Swansea City.

And Elva-Fountaine, 19, and Barrett, 18, will increase the right-sided defensive options in Steve Stone’s squad after previously playing for Reading and Leicester City, respectively.

Their arrivals follow Ryan Cooney’s return to Morecambe on a season-long loan, while fellow right-back Jordan Cropper has also been allowed to go back to Chesterfield on loan for the season to further his first-team experience after playing eight times for the National League side during the truncated 2019/20 season.

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The deals bring fresh blood into the Clarets’ U23 set-up for their rise in level and also casts an eye to the future as all four newcomers get the chance to make their mark from pre-season onwards.

Several of the U23 squad were involved at senior level following lockdown towards the end of last season, which finished less than a month ago as the Clarets wrapped up a top-10 finish.

That’s set to be the case again in training when Sean Dyche’s men report back for duty today.

And right-back Elva-Fountaine will be amongst them after putting pen to paper at Barnfield.

“I’m delighted. It’s a great club and a good opportunity.

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”Since I’ve been here it seems inviting. Everyone seems level-headed and on the same path and after the same objective,” said the Londoner, who made it as far as the U23 side at Reading during three years with the Royals.

“On my way here I visited the stadium and you can see the history. I like to remember the roots of a club. I noticed pictures of past players around the stadium which are good gestures.”

The former Tottenham schoolboy added: “As a footballer, things change all the time. There are different opportunities every season.

“You’ve just got to be ready for anything. You’ve got to be fit and ready to crack on and I’m ready to crack on.

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“I’ve been working hard. I started my pre-season when this whole lockdown thing started. I haven’t taken my foot off the gas at all. Every single day I’ve been at it.

“I’m not here to take it easy. I’m going to be observing and keep focused. The little bits I will pick up on will make a difference, especially with the full-backs here in front of me.

“They are experienced and have had great careers. I’m going to pick up and learn some bits from them along the way.”

Rickard also figured in Premier League 2’s second tier with Swansea’s U23s last season and is looking forward to a new challenge after a decade with his hometown club.

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“It was nice to progress there but being there for so long, it’s nice to have a fresh start and something new, so I was chuffed to hear about this and come here now,” said the central midfield player.

“I couldn’t wait to start. It was nice to hear Burnley have gone Category One and how they have done in the Premier League, it seems like a great club.

“I just want to get my head down, focus on my football and see how the season goes.”

Barrett, who plays as a right-back or central defender, has also left his hometown club to look to further his career with the Clarets.

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“It was disappointment, but also excitement,” said Barrett, who had been with the Foxes since the age of 11.

“I knew that as one door closed another was opening and I’m excited about a new challenge. Leaving home will help me mature and it’s the next step of growing up.

“Burnley have established themselves in the Premier League and as a club it seems to have everything.

“You can’t really ask for more I want to try and cement a place in the Under-23s as a start and work from there.”