TEENAGE forward, Tinashe Chakwana, born of Zimbabwean parents, is set to continue his development at English Premier League side Burnley after extending his scholarship agreement with the Clarets until the end of next season.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
Chakwana (18), who was born in Wigan, England, has been at Burnley since 2015 and is fresh from a very successful season at the English Premier League development side, scoring regularly.
The young forward’s consistent performances last season earned him praises from the head of Burnley’s development squad, Michael Jolly, who tipped him to break into the first team.
“Tinashe’s quality is improving tremendously. He is scoring goals for the team and that’s important for a forward player,” Jolly said recently.
“Our aim is to get more players into the first team and we have more players training as part of the first team group from the Under-21 side.
“And Tinashe is one of those players who have the potential to break into the first team soon,” said Jolly, the senior professional development phase coach at Turf Moor.
Burnley is also home to another England-born Zimbabwean player Tendayi Darikwa.
Chakwana is one of the three Burnley scholars, who have taken up third-year scholarships next season together with fellow striker Tommy Wood, midfielders Tunde Bayode and Mark Howarth and goalkeeper Connor King.
Another Burnley academy player, Ali Koiki, also has had his contract extended for a further 12 months after joining the Clarets last summer.
However, midfielders Miles Fenton and Tyler Shrimpton, goalkeeper Tony Agayere, 19, defender Billy Grogan and forward RJ Pingling are to be released at the end of the season, when they reach the end of their initial two-year scholarships.
Chakwana’s contract extension significantly boosts his chances of progressing to the Burnley first team squad and join Darikwa, who also has Zimbabwean roots but was born in England.
Burnley Academy boss, Jonathan Pepper said: “The scholars have really kicked on this year, the first and second years, which is reflected in their recent form going up the league, compared with where they finished last year.
“It would be nice to get the Under-23s a core nucleus of players, who have been with the club for a number of years, rather than at the moment, where the Under-23s is very much a mixed group that has been introduced into the club the last year or two.
“It would be good to have a group of players, who have been with us for a while and then a few additions, so they really have an affiliation with the club.”