Burnley winger Johann Berg Gudmundsson says that winning a place in Sean Dyche's starting XI is harder than ever

Burnley's Johann Berg Gudmundsson scores his side's third goal past Southampton's Angus Gunn
Burnley's Johann Berg Gudmundsson scores his side's third goal past Southampton's Angus Gunn

Johann Berg Gudmundsson has revealed that breaking in to Burnley's starting line-up and retaining that position is as challenging as it's ever been.

The Icelandic international was in and out of the side last season, starting just half of the Clarets' fixtures in the Premier League and adding 10 appearances from the bench.

But the 28-year-old, who netted three goals and added six assists in the top flight last term, has been given a clean bill of health and is desperate to play a big part in the club's campaign this time around.

Gudmundsson understands that any kind of slip up or setback will more than likely cost him his place in the XI.

Sean Dyche is spoilt for choice in most areas of the pitch and his options in midfield, particularly in the wider roles, are no different.

Jeff Hendrick has been utilised on the right hand side from time to time, Dwight McNeil has impressed since stepping on to the scene, Aaron Lennon has given the Burnley boss some food for thought since returning from an enforced break while Republic of Ireland international Robbie Brady is pushing for a return.

"The squad is looking really good, there's a lot of competition," said the former Charlton Athletic winger.

"The lads are all fit and ready to go so there are positive signs in the first two games and now we need to keep going.

"It is a strong squad and there's a lot of competition to make it in to the XI. That can only be a good thing because it makes it tougher to get in to those positions.

"To get in to the first XI you have to train well and play well. That's football, there's always going to be competition in football, but it's a good thing.

"It's healthy competition. Training is at a really high standard and the games are as well. We'll just have to keep going and play with the same attitude as we have done in the first two games.

"I think it is [the strongest squad yet]. It's pretty much the same core since I've been here, we've just added more quality players to it. It looks really good. It's only been two games, but it's been a really positive two games."

Gudmundsson, who had a spell on the sidelines last season after suffering a thigh strain in the FA Cup tie against Barnsley, scored in the 3-0 win over Southampton on the opening weekend of the season at Turf Moor, guiding the ball past Angus Gunn and inside the far post.

He then played 72 minutes in the 2-1 defeat to Arsenal at the Emirates where he was replaced by former England international Lennon.

"I feel really good," he confirmed. "I've had a full pre-season and I feel fit. I'm playing at the moment and I want to keep myself in the team.

"I want to play as many games as I can and contribute to goals and assists, as I have done in previous years. I got the goal against Southampton in the first game so I want to build on that.

"I just want to stay fit because when I am fit I know I can bring a lot to this team. As long as I keep fit, I'm training well and playing well, I'll be alright.

"It felt really good [scoring against Southampton], especially in the first game so I got off the mark really quickly.

"When you've not scored or assisted and then four or five games go by you start thinking about it. It was good to get off the mark in the first game."