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Focus Is The Key - Dyche

One lap at a time in race for Europe as Clarets return to Turf Moor

13 April 2018

Sean Dyche is looking forward to a sell-out Turf Moor return but isn’t thinking beyond the visit of Leicester City as the Clarets make an eagerly-awaited homecoming.

It’s six weeks since Dyche’s side beat Everton in their last home game to launch a four-match winning run in the Premier League.

That has tightened Burnley’s grip on seventh place in the table by lifting them six points clear of eighth-placed Leicester in what could become a race for Europe.

But any thoughts of a place in next season’s Europa League are not uppermost in Dyche’s mind as the Clarets’ boss backs his players to keep their thoughts purely on trying to beat the Foxes.

“The facts of it are that both teams are pushing for this European spot, but beyond that is our continued focus on the next game,” said Dyche.

“That’s not easy to do, especially when there’s a lot of outside noise. First it was about a bad run, then a good run and now it’s about Europe.

“Throughout it all, the players have remained focused on the next game and that’s key. We’ve never been in a position in this league to look beyond that.

“But there’s a good feeling after four wins and we’re back at Turf Moor, which has been a particularly strong base to work from.

“So, let’s take on the game, be ready when the whistle blows and we’ll reflect on it afterwards and see where we are at.”

There has, inevitably, had to be some consideration given to the implications of qualifying for Europe among the Turf Moor hierarchy on the back of the Clarets’ lofty league position with just a month of the season to go.

But Dyche’s immediate thoughts are on the on-going development of a side that bounced back superbly from a run of 11 games without a victory to launch their current winning streak, which will take them beyond 50 points if it can be extended to a seventh home win of the campaign.

He added: “We’ve had background discussions about it (Europe), but that’s a soft view because we are not in a position to firm anything up.

“It’s on a back-burner because we focus on the here and now and I think we are continually improving.

“We work hard on the training pitch, but there has to be a reward and that is the wins and points on the table and we’ve done that very well.

“I know where the judgement of myself and my team is, but as a manager there has to be more than that – and that lies in the fact they are improving as individuals and as a group. That bodes well for the future.”

From the other side

Leicester City defender Harry Maguire: “It’s a big game in our season. There’s no doubt about it, we’re not going to sit here and play it down at all. It’s a cup game in our eyes. We need to go there and win.

“The games are running out. We are looking to go there and get the three points. We know it’s going to be tough, not many teams go there and take maximum points off them.

“I think they’re a good side. They’re very well organised, they don’t concede many goals and their home form has been very good, especially at the start of the season.

“They work hard for each other and they’ve got a great manager in charge as well who’s doing a fantastic job.

“They’ve been together a number of years now, they’ve got a great bunch of lads and a great spirit between them. All credit to them.”

Recent form

Leicester have won their last two away games – but won just three times in the league since New Year’s Day under former Southampton boss Claude Puel.

Injury news

The Clarets will again be without defender Ben Mee but winger Johann Berg Gudmundsson could be back after missing two games with a calf strain.

On-loan wideman GK Nkoudou is a doubt with a tight hamstring.

Leicester are without midfielders Wilfred Ndidi, who is banned, and Bacup-born Matty James Vicente Iborra, who are both injured.

Daniel Amartey is also not ready to return so Under-23s captain Hamza Choudhury is set to make his first Premier League start.

Match stats

The Clarets are going for five successive top-flight wins for the first time since November 1968, when their run extended to six.

Only four clubs in the Premier League have yet to lose a game after leading this season. Burnley are one of them.

Leicester are looking to win three successive away league games for the first time since April, 2016.

The Foxes have not won away from home this season against a team above them in the table.

Referee

Martin Atkinson


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