Burnley winger Dwight McNeil has the world at his feet but must always play with a smile, says his manager Sean Dyche.
McNeil is poised for his 50th Premier League appearance on Saturday at Newcastle after making his first-team breakthrough last season.
The 20-year-old is the youngest player since Raheem Sterling in 2014 to make 10 Premier League assists and Dyche can only wonder at where his talent can take him.
“His future is open to him,” Dyche said. “He’s racking up the games, he’s a young player.
“I marvel at the ease with which he plays, especially when his shoulders are back and he’s in confident mood and he’s playing with a smile, which I want him to do.
“We’ll see, but I feel he’s a very top player for his age and a top talent for his age and he should certainly be spoken about as one of the top young players in this country at this moment in time.”
McNeil made his senior bow in the final match of the 2017/18 campaign and chalked up 25 more appearances in all competitions last season.
The England Under-21 international has started every league game this season and followed up his assist for Matej Vydra’s opening goal in last week’s 3-0 home win against Bournemouth with a fine solo goal.
All Dyche asks of the Rochdale-born forward is to relish his rapid rise.
“The only real pressure on Dwight is to smile and enjoy his football,” Dyche added. “That’s it in a nutshell.
“It’s the only pressure I’ve put on him. Me and my staff have given him some guidance and some reassurance at times and his fellow players equally.
“But at his age – he’s rolling round the Premier League and he should be enjoying that, not taking on anything other than just being clear-minded and ready to deliver performances.
“That’s the message to him. Whether it’s here, in the dressing room or just before the game – get your shoulders back and go and show them what a good player you are.”
Burnley have put a run of four straight league defeats behind them by taking 13 points from the last 15 available to climb up to 10th in the table.
Victory at Newcastle – without a league win in four – would lift Dyche’s side above Wolves, who play at Tottenham on Sunday, and Arsenal, who are in FA Cup action at Portsmouth on Monday.
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