Clarets boss Sean Dyche feels his players’ mentality is “as firm as ever” going into Saturday’s Lancashire derby with Preston North End at Turf Moor.
Burnley are unbeaten in nine games, having drawn their last three – coming from 2-0 down with five minutes remaining to draw at Cardiff City on Saturday.
His side’s resolved is underlined by the fact that they have lost once in 14 outings, and have scored more goals in the last 15 minutes of games – nine – than any team in the Championship, with the most goals – five – from substitutes in the division emphasising the importance of the squad.
And Dyche, looking back on referee Darren Drysdale’s failure to dismiss Lee Peltier for handball and award a Burnley penalty at 0-0 at Cardiff, said: “The mentality is strong, to see through what we now know was a pretty awful decision going against us.
“The mentality is as firm as ever, and we continue to build that.
“It’s hard, you don’t want to overthink these things but we have had two unfathomable decisions this season, we should have had a penalty and their lad sent off against Birmingham, and then against Cardiff.
“It’s very difficult for managers and players not to get involved, when decisions are so far wrong, but the players did well to see through that and respond as they did.
“Some of the quality was very good as well, and there were good signs again.
“The Championship doesn’t come easy, you have to earn the right, and we are doing that.”
Burnley will again have to earn the right tomorrow against North End, who have lost once in eight games, and, in 18th, have conceded fewer goals than the Clarets in fifth: “They are all big games, and we know what we consider the big derby to be, but this is certainly a derby.
“Preston haven’t conceded many goals, and probably haven’t scored as many as they would have liked, but they have settled their season down after an awkward start, particularly after getting promotion.
“They have an experienced manager and it will be a big challenge, but one we will be ready for.
“Our mentality is as solid as a rock, and we have a lot of belief in what we do.”
Dyche kept some of his players sharp with a Development Squad game against Rochdale on Tuesday, including Dean Marney, Matt Taylor, Michael Kightly, Chris Long, Matt Lowton, Fredrik Ulvestad, Stephen Ward and Matt Gilks, and he said: “It’s important to keep the whole squad ready. As much as we believe in training, it’s nice to get 90 minutes even for the legs.
“The mentality of the players was very good, we want to keep everyone sharp.
“We haven’t made a load of changes, but you will make them, whether it is suspensions, injuries, tactical, and the players have to be ready.
“The subs have been ready and we want that to continue.”
Dean Marney came off the bench at Cardiff – his first first team action in almost 10 months – and Dyche admits he is close to returning to the relentless machine of old: “Deano is feeling good and is doing really well.
“He is getting fitter all the time, I’m not talking about general fitness, but that ground-in fitness, the extra 1, 2, 5, 10%, whatever it is, that comes with games and first team games.
“It’s not just being able to run around, it’s about that first team sharpness, and he is showing good signs.
“The final piece is a really important piece, and Deano is close to that now physically.”
Dyche hopes to have striker Sam Vokes available after missing the last two games with a groin problem: “Vokesy has had a good few days, and we’ll see how he is.”