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Criticism from the crowd is part of Dwight McNeil’s development, according to Burnley manager Sean Dyche.
The 22-year-old has made 134 appearances, scoring seven goals, since bursting onto the scene in the 2018/19 season, and has started all bar one of Burnley’s Premier League games so far this season.
However, having failed to score so far this term, while supplying only one assist, the former England Under 21 international has come under fire from sections of the support on social media, and, certainly in Saturday’s 4-0 defeat at home to Chelsea, in the stands.
McNeil squandered a first half opportunity to put the Clarets ahead against Chelsea, after Edouard Mendy flapped at a centre from Ashley Westwood, while he twice failed to pick out a teamate having been sent away down the left by Wout Weghorst.
There was a smattering of boos when Jay Rodriguez was the man to make way for Maxwel Cornet just after the hour mark, but asked about McNeil, Dyche defended his player: “I thought Dwight was terrific – I’ve got to be honest, apart from not scoring a goal, the bravery to come and get the ball, getting questioned for probably the first time - it’s part of his development.
“Our fans are very fair, they’re questioning him at the minute, but he’s a fine young player, and part of his development will be playing under those circumstances.
“But he never shied away from the ball, he kept coming to get it, even though he knew the crowd were just giving him a little bit.
“At the end of the day, that’s part of being a footballer, and his growth as a footballer, but it wasn’t about Dwight today - first half he was terrific, him and Aaron Lennon.”
At times, McNeil looked shorn of confidence, but at others, he showed good character to make himself available and demand the ball, and Dyche noted: “It shows character and courage, he wants to play and do well and deliver.
“I think he is a fine player and I think it is part of his development, the crowd here are very good and have been very fair to all of these players and myself over many years.”
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