Sean Dyche has credited teenage winger Dwight McNeil with playing a major role in reviving Burnley’s season.
The 19-year-old’s first seven top-flight starts for the Clarets have coincided with a club-record seven Premier League games without defeat.
England goalkeeper Tom Heaton also came into the team at the start of that run but manager Dyche feels the contribution of McNeil has gone under the radar.
The academy graduate created one of Burnley’s goals in Saturday’s 3-1 victory at Brighton with his third assist of the season, while Heaton produced a string of fine first-half saves to help keep the Lancashire club out of the relegation zone.
When asked about the form of Heaton, Dyche was keen to focus on the emergence of McNeil.
He said: “I’ve got to share it with you, because it doesn’t get a mention, you know Dwight McNeil came in at the same time?
“He’s been fantastic, 19 years old, running around the Premier League, enjoying his football – fantastic.
“Tom’s definitely played his part, Dwight as well. He’s a young man with a bright future as long as he keeps working hard, which I believe he will.
“Dwight’s new to the Premier League, there aren’t many 19-year-olds rolling around the Premier League and he’s handling himself very well.”
Dyche turned to McNeil and dropped Joe Hart in favour of Heaton following the 5-1 Boxing Day drubbing at home to Everton.
Since that setback Burnley have claimed 15 points from a possible 21 to boost their survival hopes after a slow start to the campaign.
A brace from Chris Wood and a penalty from fellow former Brighton striker Ashley Barnes did the damage at the Amex Stadium to leave the Clarets level on 27 points with their hosts, three points above the bottom three.
The Seagulls have now gone six top-flight fixtures without success and are still waiting for a first league victory of 2019.
Albion manager Chris Hughton admits his team need to become more prolific in front of goal but dismissed suggestions of a crisis of confidence.
“I think we need to be better in front of goal. We need to be scoring more goals,” said Hughton.
“You leave yourselves vulnerable if you are not able to score.
“As regards a lack of confidence, I can’t say that because that hasn’t been the case.”
Albion’s striking options were dealt a blow on Friday when forward Florin Andone was handed a retrospective three-match ban for violent conduct after catching West Brom midfielder Sam Field with an elbow during the midweek FA Cup win at The Hawthorns.
Hughton, who was disappointed with the Football Association’s ruling, added: “(It is) a big blow. You will see that action every weekend, the unfortunate thing is he has caught him.
“We are not denying that he has caught the lad, or (saying) that the lad has made a meal of it. But we felt there was no intent in doing it.”
- Press Association