Clarets coach Steve Stone looking for the next jewel in the academy's crown

Burnley Under 23s coach Steve Stone at the Tameside Stadium
Burnley Under 23s coach Steve Stone at the Tameside Stadium
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Burnley's under 23s coach Steve Stone has described centre back Jimmy Dunne as a shining example for other academy players to follow.

The 21-year-old defender, who returned to action for the Clarets at the Tameside Stadium on Monday following a loan spell with Hearts, is on the cusp of another temporary move away to help further his development.

Dunne, who received his first call up to the Republic of Ireland squad last year, is believed to be close to sealing a loan move to the Stadium of Light to aid Sunderland's push back towards the Championship.

The youngster, who has previously spent time at Barrow and Accrington Stanley, made 14 appearances during his time at Tynecastle, netting twice in the Scottish Premier League, before an ankle injury brought an end to his stay.

Stone, a former first team coach at Newcastle United, didn't hold back in his praise of the defender, saying: "I've used Jimmy [Dunne] as an example this week because he's been back for a week since his injury.

"He's been unbelievable around the place with his professionalism, the way he deals with training, the way he encourages other players, his leadership qualities.

"All those things have been really good. He's an example of a player going out on loan and seeing what he's achieved. That's the next step for our lads.

"Jimmy coming in today and showing his qualities is perfect for our lads. He's a beacon really, a shining light amongst us.

"He's well passed me but it's great to have him back. Hopefully we'll get him back out again on loan somewhere.

"The feedback has been impressive from everywhere he's been. It doesn't matter whether he's been at Hearts or back with me or at Accrington Stanley.

"It's testament to what the loan system can do if a player gets the right move and he applies himself really well.

"Hearts have loved him. I went up to watch him at Celtic, they got thumped 5-0 that day but Jimmy was still the best player on the pitch for Hearts. His attitude and everything about him is what our lads need to aspire to."

The former England international also applauded the progression of Dwight McNeil, who has now made eight appearances for Sean Dyche's side.

The 19-year-old has a goal and an assist from his four Premier League starts and has also featured in the FA Cup, League Cup and Europa League.

Now he's challenging his players to be the next one to make the grade at Turf Moor.

"Dwight [McNeil] is out of this team because he's now gone on to the first team, which is a real boost for the academy and what they've done with him," said Stone.

"We're absolutely delighted that he's gone on to do that but what it leaves us with now is somebody else that needs to step in to Dwight's shoes.

"I've told them that so now who is going to be the new Dwight in this team or the next one that jumps out? They have to do it.

"It might be the fact that someone has to go out on loan and comes back and does it but somebody has to jump out. It's up to them."