"We've come a long way" insists Burnley boss Sean Dyche ahead of trip to Fulham
Clarets boss Sean Dyche admits he “would have absolutely ripped your hands off” for the scenario that sees Burnley go to Fulham on Monday night, nine points above the Cottagers with 12 to play for.
Scott Parker’s men sit 18th in the Premier League table, with their survival hopes looking decidedly grim after taking one point from the last 18 available.
Parker accepts his side will have to win their last four games to give themselves any sort of chance, with their final two home games against Burnley and Newcastle United, who b oth have a nine-point cushion.
The Clarets themselves have lost four of their last five outings, as they look to confirm a sixth-successive season in the top flight, although Dyche has been pleased in the main with performances in that spell.
However, the turnaround since game seven, when Burnley had suffered five defeats and picked up draws at West Brom and Brighton, has put the Clarets on the brink of safety, which, taking into account the club’s injury problems over the season, and the abject failure to back Dyche in the transfer market, would tally as one of his biggest achievements at Turf Moor.
Defeat at Fulham would give the Cottagers hope, although they also have to go to Southampton and Manchester United, looking for four wins, having won five of 34 so far.
But Dyche isn’t being drawn into talk of it being a crucial game: “It looks no more tasty than it would have done at the beginning of the season.
“You have to play everyone home and away, so our mentality is firm no matter who we play.
“We’ve come a long way, I’ve mentioned it a lot lately because we have, since game seven when we had two points.
“I haven’t lost sight of that, we’ve had to put a lot of hard work in to this season and still have work to go.
“But if you would have said to me then we’d be where we are now, I’d have absolutely ripped your hands off.
“I think the performance levels are good, the energy is good, the com mitment to the cause is excellent, so I expect us to see out the season properly and play against whoever we play against to try and win.”
Dyche has no new injury worries ahead of the game, with Robbie Brady and Kevin Long expected to again be unavailable.
And Ashley Barnes got his first action, since scoring the equaliser in the home draw with Fulham in February, on Monday night in the 2-1 defeat against West Ham at Turf Moor.
Dyche added: “The focus for me is always every game at a time and that one game at a time mentality.
“We are aware of the season’s work and we have to plan for some of that but the focus is on the next game regardless of what people want to say about it.
“That is the case since we have been here.
“You have got to play everyone home and away and believe you can win games no matter who you are playing, and we have shown a strong mentality towards that for the journey we have been on this season.”
Parker knows it is win or bust on Monday night: “We have to win four games.
“It is a difficult task, but it is one that, with the right way about us, I think we can do.”