By Sports Reporter
BURNLEY Academy manager Jon Pepper has showered England-born Zimbabwean teenager Tinashe Chakwana likening to former England striker Jermain Defoe.
This followed Chakwana impressive four-goal haul during Burnley U-23’ 6-0 victory over Sheffield United U-23 in a recent Professional Development League match at the Tameside Stadium.
The 19-year-old forward, who was born in England to Zimbabwean parents, has been in red hot form the Clarets’ development side this season with his latest goals taking him to the top of the academy side’s scoring charts on eight goals.
Pepper, who heads the Premier League side’s academy was full of praise for the promising forward, who could have scored five goals during the match against Sheffield if one of his goals had not been disallowed.
“I’m pleased for Tinashe, he’s really worked hard in recent months,” Pepper told Burnley’s official website in an interview.
“He was in the right positions and finished well. You can’t fault that. “He had one disallowed as well. They were really clean finishes.
“I’m really pleased for him but he’s capable of that. It’s good for him and it’s a reflection of how well he’s done in the last few months.
“He’s got a lot to offer. When he’s on his game, playing up there and down the middle, he really closes problems.
“He plays off the shoulder, comes short, gets it in to his feet, a little bit like Jermain Defoe. He can be a good finisher when he’s on it.”
The former academy coach at Nottingham Forest, who spent six years with Bradford City, believes Chakwana is ready for the next phase in his development and the Premier League club will be looking to secure a loan move for him and other youngsters at the club in the near future.
“We might be looking at the Christmas point where someone like Tinashe will go out on loan, so we can see how he’ll do playing men’s football week in, week out,” Pepper said.
“I think that would be the next step for them and then we’ll assess it from there. Dwight (McNeil) has gone through the system quite smoothly into the first team so that was his pathway.
“With this group, over the next 12 months, some of them will have to go and play senior football. They’re showing now that they’re capable of that.
“There were scouts in the stand and I’d be looking at one or two who could do a good job at whatever level,” he said.
Chakwana, who was born in Wigan, England, has been at Burnley since 2015 on a scholarship deal and was last year tipped him to break into the first team.
The teenage forward, who has been tipped to follow in the footsteps of his former Burnley teammate Tendayi Darikwa by pursuing an international career with Zimbabwe, said he was delighted to score four goals against Sheffield.
“I’m delighted to score four goals this afternoon but also really happy to get the win,” he said.
“Since the Bournemouth game we have picked up a couple of good results.
“We took the momentum from the result at Leeds into this game and it was good to get the win”.
He added: “I have set some targets for the season, but you just have to go with the flow.
“But I’ve got myself going now and I just want to keep it going.”