Sean Dyche admits he admires joint-record signing Ben Gibson for taking on the challenge of trying to split up one of the best central defensive partnerships in the Premier League.
Only the top five conceded fewer goals than Burnley last season – and the Clarets would have been behind only the top two, champions Manchester City and United, bar an off-day in the penultimate game at Arsenal.
Only the top six claimed more clean sheets, with Ben Mee and James Tarkowski the bedrock of a water-tight defence.
Ahead of last night’s Europa League clash with Istanbul Başakşehir, Mee and Tarkowski had started all four competitive games to date so far this season, and had conceded only twice, keeping clean sheets in Istanbul, and in Sunday’s Premier League opener at Southampton.
Gibson, brought in for £15m from Middlesbrough in the final week of the transfer window, was on the bench for those two shut-outs, as he saw Mee and Tarkowski’s resilience at close quarters.
England international Tarkowski already tops the Premier League clearances statistics after just one game, having finished 11th last term, with Mee 14th.
Gibson has a job on his hands to break up that pairing, but Dyche feels that speaks volumes about his character that he hasn’t shied away from that: “That’s the challenge, and he’s bought into that.
“Ben Gibson, without doubt, is a man, a leader.
“I can’t smell anything other than that on him.
“He wants to do well for himself.
“He’s taken a big commitment to come here, and he knows.
“He’s seen it – there’s an honesty to players like him.
“He’ll be looking (at Mee and Tarkowski) thinking ‘these are decent players’.
“But, how can you not admire a player who knows he’s coming into that, and saying, ‘yeah, I want a piece of it. I want to go and challenge.’
“So we’re looking forward to what he can offer when he gets a chance.”
Gibson, Matej Vydra and Joe Hart were Burnley’s only summer signings, with Gibson and Vydra getting some game time on Monday night as the Under 23s beat Cardiff City 4-1 at Turf Moor in the opening Professional Development League game of the season.
Vydra was on target, and Dyche added: “Vyds has to get fit, he’s hardly been involved at Derby, let’s see what he can offer.
“Joe Hart is different with his experience levels.
“We probably wanted one or two more, but we’re pleased with the ones we’ve got, that’s for sure, and the demand from the group, to still keep on their standards.”