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Dyche Hails McNeil Despite Cup Defeat

26 January 2019

Sean Dyche highlighted Dwight McNeil’s performance as a shining light as Burnley crashed out of the FA Cup at Manchester City.

The Premier League champions took no prisoners, punishing a below-par second half display from the Clarets to cruise into round five.

But Dyche again pointed to the emergence of teenage talent McNeil as a positive to take forward from an otherwise disappointing afternoon.

The gaffer said: “We’ve been patching a side up for five or six games now and the lads have been terrific.

“We certainly didn’t come here today for that to happen, but within all that we’ve a young man in Dwight McNeil who, I am telling you, was first class again today.

“No matter what is going on in the game, he wants it, wants to help his team mates deliver and he puts doubts into the opposition.

“I said to him after to keep enjoying his football, because he is on a nice upwards curve and I have great admiration for him.

“He’s 19 and going around all these Premier League grounds and showing that nice edge of borderline confidence and arrogance.

“Not as a person, because he’s a very unassuming, but on the pitch you want him to come to life and I am really enjoying watching him at the moment.”

Dyche shuffled his pack for the daunting trip to the Etihad, operating with three centre backs and Charlie Taylor in an unfamiliar right back role.

Robbie Brady’s return from suspension was cut short at half time by a groin injury, and there were valuable minutes in the tank for Stephen Ward and Steven Defour.

The Burnley boss explained: “We patched a team together today, once again, so I am not too disgruntled with it.

"The challenge today was looking at who we can protect.

"We’ve been on a run of five very, very good performances and we had to protect the situation today and get some minutes into the players who were coming back from injury, such as Ward and Defour.

“We’ve two right backs down, and we lost Robbie at half time to a groin injury, when we know we’ve been working to try and get wide men fit, so there’s a lot going on and at the minute we know the bigger picture and the bigger fight, and that is the Premier League.

“It’s tough to come here with all that, but they are the brutal facts and to be honest, today was more about them – and I saw elite players doing what elite players do.

“They picked an elite team and brought on elite substitutes and sometimes, when they are as potent and clinical as they were today, you have to hold your hands up.

“I’ve checked all the goals back and they mostly come from us and the mistakes we made, particularly in the second half, were punished pretty much every time.”

Things might have been different had Matej Vydra – operating as a lone striker – converted a glorious chance early in the second half with the score still 1-0.

The Czech international robbed Nicolas Otamendi of possession on the edge of the defender’s own area, but fired into the side netting with just Ederson to beat.

“Matej’s chance is pivotal, not just in terms of the scoreline, but the feeling inside the stadium,” said Dyche.

“It suddenly feels a bit weird for them if he scores and that can affect the game. You know you aren’t going to get many chances against these, and I’m not remotely saying we’d have gone on to win the game, but you never know because that changes the energy in the respective sides - and not long after they get a second and it’s tough from there.

“But as I say I am not going to overthink this one. It gets parked very quickly because we have bigger fights ahead.”

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