Josh Brownhill outlines why Burnley's tough pre-season friendlies will prove so invaluable

Josh Brownhill believes Burnley’s high quality of opposition in pre-season will stand them in good stead for their return to the Premier League.
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Vincent Kompany delivers his verdict on Burnley's friendly defeat to Genk

The Clarets lost 2-0 to a strong KRC Genk side on Saturday and face Portuguese champions Benfica on Tuesday evening, before facing further games against Real Betis and Mainz.

For Genk, it was their final friendly before their competitive season gets underway on Tuesday night with their Champions League qualifier against Swiss outfit Servette.

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The Belgian Pro League side were understandably sharper than Vincent Kompany’s side, who don’t begin their Premier League campaign until Friday, August 11.

Nevertheless, Brownhill was pleased with the test and believes the Clarets will see the benefit of it once the season gets underway.

“We’re playing against the best in the world in the Premier League this season and these sides are among the best in their divisions,” he told the Burnley Express.

“They’ve got some real top quality players, so for us we need to test ourselves against these teams so when we go into the Premier League there’s no surprises and we know what’s coming.”

Brownhill got an invaluable 90 minutes in his legs during Saturday's friendly against GenkBrownhill got an invaluable 90 minutes in his legs during Saturday's friendly against Genk
Brownhill got an invaluable 90 minutes in his legs during Saturday's friendly against Genk
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Burnley only made three changes against Genk, giving a first 90 minutes of pre-season to eight players – and Brownhill was among them.

“It was a real tough test, but it was something we’ve needed,” the 27-year-old.

“We’re obviously getting a bit closer to the season now and getting that fitness, with a lot of the lads getting their first 90 minutes, is really important.

“They’re a few weeks ahead of us and they’ve got a big game on Tuesday with their Champions League qualifier, so fitness-wise they’re ahead of us.

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“In the first-half we were very good. It probably took us 10 minutes to get into the swing of things and then the goal they scored obviously helped them.

“We had a few chances and on another day we take them, but it’s our first 90 minutes so it’s about getting that sharpness in. You could probably tell towards the end it was our first 90.”

Kompany’s men were the better side during the first-half and were unfortunate to find themselves behind at the break.

But in the second-half Genk’s superior fitness levels shone through and the game became a lot more stretched.

“It was real tough,” Brownhill admitted.

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“You get to the 75-minute mark, which was the maximum we had previously played since coming back, and it was tough.

“They’re a few weeks ahead of us so they’re a lot fitter and sharper at the moment and you could tell in the last 15 minutes.

“They’re a very, very good team. They were unlucky not to win their league last season and they’ve got some quality players.

“For us, it was a real good test, it was good for our fitness and it’s onto the next one on Tuesday.”

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The Clarets are now set to embark on a training camp in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon before facing Benfica on Tuesday evening. A further friendly against Betis takes place in the Spanish city of Huelva on Friday night.