Tough test, Trafford debut & Weghorst boos: The main talking points from Burnley's friendly against Genk

Burnley fans got to see their first glimpse of Vincent Kompany’s men this pre-season when the Clarets took on Belgian side Genk on Saturday evening.
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Up to this point, all four of Burnley’s outings had been played behind closed doors, with victories recorded against Fleetwood Town, Burton Albion, Port Vale and Sheffield Wednesday at the club’s Gawthorpe training ground.

While that winning streak ended at the Cegeka Arena last night with a 2-0 defeat, there were still plenty of positives for Kompany’s men, with the result not telling the full story.

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Our Burnley FC writer Matt Scrafton was in attendance – here he talks us through some of the key talking points:

A game of two halves

Those who weren’t at the game will be forgiven for taking one look at the scoreline and thinking Burnley were comfortably beaten, but that wasn’t the case at all.

Kompany’s men were the better side during the first-half and were unfortunate to be trailing at the break.

Last night's friendly took place at Genk's Cegeka ArenaLast night's friendly took place at Genk's Cegeka Arena
Last night's friendly took place at Genk's Cegeka Arena

Indeed, it was ironic that Genk’s eight-minute opener came just as the Clarets were beginning to build some momentum with their fluid build-up through the thirds and beginning to put some promising moves together.

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It was a sloppy goal to concede but Burnley created more than enough openings to get themselves back on level terms, if not take the lead, they just lacked that little bit of sharpness and a cutting edge in the final third, which will come with time.

Burnley were a lot more ragged in the second-half as tiredness began to creep into the legs, with the game becoming more stretched in the final 10 to 15 minutes in particular, which subsequently led to Genk doubling their lead at the death. But it was an otherwise competitive outing against a strong Genk side.

Catching the eye

It was no coincidence that a good chunk of the chances Burnley created came via the trickery and quality of Anass Zaroury on the left wing.

The Moroccan international looked especially sharp and had his marker on toast during the first-half, beating him for fun and getting to the byline on a number of occasions.

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He did exactly that on one occasion in the opening period when he pulled the ball back for the onrushing Josh Brownwill, who saw his shot well blocked from about eight yards out.

It’s also worth noting Lyle Foster’s first-half display, which was full of energy and pressing. He worked tirelessly to win the ball back on a regular basis and deserved his breather when he was replaced by Wout Weghorst late on.

Scott Twine also looked lively and showed some good moments, while Ameen Al-Dakhil stood out at the back.

Debutants

Two of Burnley’s recent recruits were given their first taste of action for the club, with James Trafford playing the full 90 in goal and Zeki Amdouni getting some time off the bench relatively late on.

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It’s difficult to judge Amdouni too much given he only played 15 minutes and didn’t see much of the ball at a stage in the game where Genk were on top. But Trafford did well to recover from his early mishap that led to Genk’s goal, getting stuck under a deep cross.

We’re told the 20-year-old is a confident lad and that shone through, because he didn’t let the error affect him and performed well for the remainder of the game, looking typically calm and composed with the ball at his feet. In terms of shot stopping, I can’t recall many occasions where he was forced into action.

Elsewhere, fellow new signings Lawrence Vigouroux, Dara O’Shea and Nathan Redmond all travelled but didn’t feature.

Tiring late on

Genk are well ahead of the Clarets in their pre-season preparations with their competitive action beginning on Tuesday night with a Champions League qualifier against Swiss side Servette.

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It showed too, with the home side looking a lot sharper during the final 15 minutes or so after making wholesale changes.

Kompany, in contrast, used this game to hand eight out of the 11 starters their first 90 minutes of pre-season. It was to be expected they tired late on and Genk took advantage, doubling their lead two minutes from time after the game had become stretched.

But for the first 60 minutes or so, the Clarets looked strong and caused their Belgian opponents plenty of problems.

Trialist in action

Andros Townsend has been training with the Clarets in a bid to prove his fitness following his departure from Everton at the end of last season.

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The 32-year-old missed the entirety of last season through injury after rupturing his ACL playing for the Toffees in March 2022, but he’s now fit and on the lookout for a new club.

Townsend started the game as a substitute but got a good half an hour or so under his belt after replacing Vitinho on the right wing on the hour mark.

It’s difficult to take too much from his cameo, although he did play a couple of clever balls into space in the right flank and certainly didn’t look overly rusty on his return to action.

It will be interesting to see what transpires from here on in.

Ending on a sour note

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Unfortunately I can’t finish this piece without mentioning the mixed reaction Wout Weghorst received when he made his Burnley return as a substitute 10 minutes from time.

Mixed is certainly the right term to describe it, because while there were boos and the odd chant here or there, plenty were also applauding and cheering his arrival onto the pitch.

Given everything that has happened, and this is assuming he’s to remain a Burnley player beyond the summer transfer window, the Dutchman will know he’s got to win round the Burnley faithful. The only way to do that is to knuckle down, perform well and score goals.

He didn’t have a great deal of time to show fans what he’s capable of during his brief cameo, although he did hold the ball up well on the few occasions it was played up to him.

Like a few others, he’ll be hoping to feature more heavily in the upcoming games against Benfica and Real Betis on Tuesday and Friday respectively.

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