Michael Duff has been appointed as Burnley's new Senior Professional Development Phase Coach for the Under 23s.
The former Clarets’ defender, who managed the Under 18s last season following his retirement as a player, steps up into his new role following the recent departure of Michael Jolley.
Duff, 39, admits the opportunity to coach the Development Squad comes earlier than he expected: "It was a bit of a shock with Mike leaving to go and take a job in Sweden, so there was an opportunity to step up which the club have asked me to do and I’m happy to do.
“It’s a nice progression into a new career and it probably happened a little bit quicker than I expected, but it’s a career path I want to take and I eventually want to end up managing, but I’m in a good place at the minute.
“I’m learning from a good manager, with the new category status at the Academy and going into the better games programme, playing against better players rather than just friendlies all the time.
“And there’s obviously some of the lads who I worked with last year moving up, so the continuity is good.”
Duff, who began his new role on the Academy’s return to training yesterday, added: “I learned a lot last year about how to deal with other people and which (training) sessions work and which don’t.
“I really enjoyed it and it just seems to sit that the club have asked me to move up and I’m more than happy to do it, working with professional players and the different demands.”
The Development Squad will this season compete in the Professional Development League for the first time, following the Academy being granted Category Two status.
That will pit the players against rival teams in a regional division, rather than the ad-hoc friendlies organised for the Development Squad last season.
And Duff feels that will provide another stepping stone towards the ultimate goal of players progressing towards first team football: "I think it’s good and I think it’s important because friendlies are friendlies and however much you can try and dress it up, the players see then as that.
“Now, there are three points at stake so it’s a different pressure on the players and different expectations.
“Ultimately it’s still about development, but part of the development now is about learning how to win a game of football so they’ll get asked different questions.”
Duff will be assisted by another former Claret Andy Farrell, who also steps up from the Under 18s.