Progress is the aim - Dyche

Ashley Barnes
Ashley Barnes
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Sean Dyche’s target remains to improve on last season’s 40 points and 16th-place finish, amid further talk of Europa League qualification.

Burnley have matched last season’s Premier League points record of 40 points with nine games to spare, and sit seventh in the table, which will be good enough for a return to Europe after 51 years, if Manchester United, Chelsea or Spurs win the FA Cup.

Conversely, they sit only five points behind Arsenal in sixth, and could claim a Europa League place by leapfrogging the Gunners.

Dyche is only focused on improving year on year, and seeing where the last nine games take him and his players: “We just want to better ourselves from last season. We have had year-on-year progression and that’s an important factor I think.

“It’s not easy to do either, so a lot of credit goes to my staff and the players. We all have to deliver on any given period and the players in particularly. So to continue that growth as individuals and a team is the main marker

“It’s nice to finish as high as you can in a league table. We’re already up to the points tally from last year, we want to go beyond that and set a new marker.”

While the squad could earn European football, several of his players are looking to be involved with their countries, with talk of James Tarkowski and Nick Pope receiving a first England call, while Austria head coach Franco Foda will be at the London Stadium to watch Ashley Barnes on Saturday.

Dyche feels the international spotlight is credit to both the club and players: “They are certainly candidates to be spoken about. Corky as well, Ben Mee and Lowts are on the periphery, people mention their names

“I respect Gareth Southgate and speak to him, but I don’t always speak to him about the players here. If he asks my opinion I’ll give it but I do respect it’s very difficult to choose the right players in a squad whether it’s a friendly or a tournament.

“I respect his decision on that. But it’s nice to see our players laying down markers and enough to be thought about. It’s good for them and good for us.

“It’s been going on for the last couple of seasons. We’ve added to the number of internationals since I’ve been here, more or less on a yearly basis, that’s very pleasing, it’s good signs of what they’re doing as individuals, what the team has been achieving and the club at large.

“It bodes well you are getting those players, they are maturing with us. Some have matured with us. It’s another thing which is a good sign of what we are trying to achieve as a football club.”

Saturday’s clash at West Ham comes too soon for Tom Heaton and Scott Arfield, and though the Hammers have lost their last two games, conceding four on both occasions, Dyche knows it won’t be as straightforward as that: “It’s not that easy. They are in a tough spell after David Moyes doing well when he first went in and calming everything done.

“He’s a very good manager in my opinion and I know Stuart Pearce well. They have a good staff.

“It’s not an easy task for us. They’re fighting for points, we’re know fighting for points for different reasons.

“We want to get as many points on the board as we can. We want to go beyond last season, we’ve put ourselves in a great position to do that.

“We have to know about the opposition and the players will be informed enough, but we have to focus on what we’re doing and how we’re going about our business.”