Sean Dyche believes the Clarets have the level of competition for places needed to keep producing results in the Premier League.
The Burnley boss has kept developing his squad during his tenure at Turf Moor and now has a group of players that have taken the Clarets to seventh place in the table ahead of Wednesday night’s trip to Bournemouth.
Dyche – who confirmed the return to full training of striker Jon Walters – has used the lowest number of players in the Premier League so far this season, but is confident those waiting for an opportunity will keep performing at the same level when their chance comes.
He said: “It’s getting busier from here until the FA Cup game (on 6 January). There are more games crunched together.
“But I like the way the squad is operating at the minute and I think it is a squad now.
“If there are changes to be made when we need them, I think the margins are tight between who’s playing currently and who’s not playing.
Jon Walters is back on the training ground
“I have been pleased with that, because that was a big part of trying to recruit the right people in the summer - to have that real competition, not only a competition between themselves to see who plays, but enough of a competitive edge to carry a season and when we do have to change we can still compete and still get points on the board.
“This season, yet again, there has been a rough shape of a team that has played more often than not, with some changes when needed.
“I just think the players we have brought in and the way I see them operate on a daily basis, when we have got to make changes or we have made changes, the performances have stayed high and that’s a key thing – that squad depth, squad competition and competitive element is really important for how we move forward, so I’ve been enjoying that.”
Walters trained with the full squad on Tuesday for the first time since picking up a knee injury in early September.
The Republic of Ireland international has so far made just three appearances for the Clarets since signing from Stoke City in the summer.
But Dyche expects the 34-year-old – who still needs some game-time with the development squad to get up to full speed – and several others waiting in the wings to have an important part to play.
The Clarets’ chief added: “Jon is getting closer. He trained with us properly for the first time today.
“He’s been doing a lot of work with the physios and the sports scientists, so he gets closer.
“He needed to get his knee super-strong and he’s doing that. He’s another one who’s a fantastic professional and sure to add to the group.
“I am always full of praise for them and the pride we take in how the players go about their business.
“Dean Marney, coming through what he’s come through, sticks at it, gets his head down and make sure he’s right.
“I have mentioned several times Charlie Taylor. I think he’s a big player for the future and even now when needed. But, at the moment, Wardy is going ever so well.
“Nahki Wells has come in and he’s looking sharp, but might have to bide his time.
“Bardo, even with his experience and a fine defender, might have to bide his time while the team keeps going how it’s going.
“I’m delighted with my staff’s work and the amount of effort the players put into it, even if they’re not involved.
“It’s not easy. They want to play, so when they’re not they have to keep themselves right.
“I’m so impressed with the professionalism in the group. It’s outstanding here.”
Walters’ return and a fully fit squad – with club captain Tom Heaton also progressing on the comeback trail – would be timely with the Clarets starting a run of nine games in less than five weeks when they face Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium.
Ever-present right-back Matt Lowton faces a fitness check after picking up a knock in Sunday’s last-gasp defeat to Arsenal.