Sean Dyche would welcome a European return for Burnley next season – even though he knows first-hand the difficulties caused by the extra demands on a small squad.
The Clarets remain in the European race after a 1-1 draw with fellow hopefuls Sheffield United on Sunday.
John Egan’s first Premier League goal denied Burnley victory after James Tarkowski scored in the first half. The result left United one point behind seventh-placed Arsenal – and Burnley a further two points back – and in a position which could bring European football if Manchester City’s appeal against a ban fails.
Burnley finished seventh two years ago to reach the Europa League qualifying rounds, but the early start to the season seemed to cause a hangover as they laboured their way to 15th in the league the following year after a lengthy battle against the drop.
“It definitely affects your group, but on the other hand you want to get as high up the league as you can and finish as strongly as you can,” Dyche said.
“It’s a badge of honour if you can get European football, especially for a club like ours or Sheffield United.
“Even Wolves, I like Wolves a lot, they’ve got a good group of players and a good team with the way they go about it, but even they had a tough start but pulled themselves through.
“But you want that badge of honour. We’ve earned it once and we’ll see what we can do again.”
Burnley have remained in the frame despite a string of problems since the restart, including speculation over Dyche’s own future following an apparent rift with the board.
Chris Wood made a second-half appearance following injury while Robbie Brady and Johann Berg Gudmundsson were back on the bench, but there was a fresh blow with news that Ben Mee and Jack Cork could both miss the rest of the season.
Tarkowski took the captain’s armband as Mee’s run of 70 straight Premier League games came to an end, and also took over goalscoring duties from his fellow defender, the match-winner at Crystal Palace on Monday, with his 43rd-minute strike.
“To be fair, me and Ben probably should have scored a few more,” Tarkowski said. “We’ve had a lot of chances but it’s nice to get on the scoresheet.
“It’s a great honour. I’ve been captain in a couple of cup games before but to lead them out in the Premier League is a great honour for me and I’m proud to be part of this club.”
Neither name on the scoresheet was a familiar sight, with Egan’s volley his first goal since August 2018, and it is something Chris Wilder wants to see more of from the Irishman.
“That should have been his 10th goal of the season, not his first,” Wilder said. “I’ve been quite critical of John. He’s been brilliant for us but goals from centre-halves add to the collection and we’ve certainly not done enough.”
It was another game where the mandatory drinks breaks seemed to affect the momentum of both teams, and Wilder questioned the need for them on a cold and windy day in Lancashire.
“It’s a tactical time out,” he said. “The game turned into four quarters. I was delighted to have my Bovril after 22 minutes. I’ve never had a Bovril in a July game.
“I didn’t think anything should have changed, whether it’s the number of subs or the drinks break. From my point of view, it isn’t a drinks break, it’s an opportunity for managers to tactically look at their team.”
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