Hitchin Town manager Mark Burke: Arsenal game great chance for players to impress

PUBLISHED: 10:52 26 July 2017 | UPDATED: 11:07 26 July 2017

Hitchin Town manager Mark Burke says tonight's game against Arsenal is a chance for his players to impress. Picture: Danny Loo

Hitchin Town manager Mark Burke says tonight's game against Arsenal is a chance for his players to impress. Picture: Danny Loo

Danny Loo Photography 2017

Hitchin Town manager Mark Burke believes tonight’s pre-season friendly against an Arsenal XI will be the perfect opportunity for his young players to impress.

Kane Smith impressed against Arsenal last term and is now playing at a higher level. Photo: Peter ElseKane Smith impressed against Arsenal last term and is now playing at a higher level. Photo: Peter Else

Arsenal signed Cohen Bramall from non-league Hednesford Town last season, making the meteoric rise from factory work to professional footballer, something Canaries boss Burke sees as offering hope to young players outside of the Football League.

Speaking exclusively to the Comet, he said: “Bramall’s move offers a lot of these young players hope.

“It was a fairy-tale move for the lad. It really opens up the door for other players in non-league football. Playing at this level can be tough so seeing someone like Bramall make that move is like a light at the end of the tunnel for some players.”

Burke has seen two of his young players make great strides towards the professional game in recent times.

Former Canaries right-back Kane Smith had trials at Premier League Crystal Palace, as well as a Football League sides Shrewsbury Town and Coventry City.

Speaking to the Comet about Smith’s Palace trial back in 2015, Burke said: “Hopefully we are building a reputation, and we’re giving youngsters a chance.

“We can’t afford the big players and we have to grow our own, and we have a number of other good lads at the club too.

“Everyone is talking about it, and if Kane did sign for them it would be great news for everyone.”

There was to be no move for Smith following his trials as he returned to Top Field, playing throughout the 2016/17 season and earning himself a move to National League side Boreham Wood.

Current Hitchin full-back Will Wright has spent the past four weeks training with Norwich City – playing for the Championship side on their pre-season tour of Germany – but they have decided against signing him.

Wright will be in the squad for the friendly against the Arsenal XI, a game that Burke sees as the perfect opportunity for his young players.

“Every player at this level has dreams of turning professional,” said Burke.

“There will be the academy coaches and scouts from Arsenal, but they are a big club so scouts from other teams will be there to watch them.

“It’s a big game for our players in that respect as they are obviously looking to impress so it’s a great opportunity.”

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