ENGLAND-BORN football prodigy Tinashe Chakwana's hopes of breaking into the first team of English Premiership side Burnley suffered a blow after he was recently released by the club, which had been his home for the last four years.
The 19-year-old forward, who was born in England to Zimbabwean parents, is one of the six Clarets' Academy players offloaded by the club, ending their hopes of joining the club's professional ranks.
The six include midfielder Mark Howarth and defender James Clarke, goalkeeper Aiden Stone, winger Marley Blair, defender Ed Cook and forward Chakwana, who also
progressed through the Clarets' youth team.
Burnley Under-23s head coach Steve Stone confirmed Chakwana and company's departure in an interview with Burnley's official website.
"The guys that we have looked at over the time have given their all. They have done everything they can. Everybody is different, but they have all tried to do
it in the right way and they have been a credit to what the football club is trying to achieve," Stone said.
"Unfortunately for some, the standards keep rising. Premier League football keeps getting tougher and keeps getting harder to break through. And this is the toughest contract they will ever have to try and get."
Stones said it had become increasingly hard for young players to progress from the club's development structures to the first team and he was hopeful the
released players would get a breakthrough at other clubs.
"The one from the U23s up to the first team is the biggest gap you will find in football. That's why it's been so tough and that's why five or six of them have left -- because it is a tough contract.
"It would have been easy for me to give them another year and say 'development'. But for the boys I've let go, it's time to go and play men's football and play
for three points on a Saturday afternoon.
"They won't like it now, but hopefully they'll thank me for it down the line when they've got a career in the game somewhere else."
Chakwana, who was born in Wigan, England, had been at Burnley since 2015 on a scholarship deal and was last year tipped him to break into the first team after signing his first professional contract at the club.
The young star, who is reportedly a target of national Under-23 coach Tonderayi Ndiraya, finished as top scorer for the Burnley Under-23s side in the 2017/18 season, having also top-scored for the club's Under-18 side during the 2016-2017 season.
After being released by Burnley, Chakwana will be hoping to find a new club ahead of the 2019/2020 season.