Burnley wideman Dwight McNeil set for milestone at Everton

Dwight McNeil
Dwight McNeil

Dwight McNeil is expected to complete a full season as a Premier League regular at Everton on Boxing Day.

McNeil will be involved in his 38th-successive top flight clash with the Clarets, having started 37 of those.

The wide man, who recently turned 20, has established himself as Burnley’s most valuable player, statistically, and boss Sean Dyche sees no sign of mental or physical fatigue as he continues to make a big impression.

McNeil, who was on the bench for Burnley’s last trip to Goodison Park in April - the only league game he hasn’t started in a year - has become one of the first names on the team sheet, and Dyche said: “Dwight has been in a situation to handle it physically, and he has actually matured into it more and more.

“He’s a very good performer for us, he’s a very active performer, and most of all, when you speak to him, he’s in a good place.

“Football fatigue is not just a physical fatigue, it’s a mental fatigue.

“So sometimes, with younger players when you smell that mental fatigue and it’s almost, ‘whoa, they need to come out’. It’s different.

“He hasn’t shown any signs of that. He comes in training different class every day, his appetite is there, so therefore crack on kid.

“The game has changed. There are a lot of breaks between them playing.

“He’s been fortunate with Aidy Boothroyd with the (England) Under 21s, where Aidy understands in certain games he’s become a big player here. So it’s not like he’s been going away every international playing loads of football there.

“And usually in the Premier League, apart from this period, it’s week to week.

“So it’s not like in the Championship where you’re playing constantly, Saturday-Tuesday, Saturday-Tuesday. You do get a breather in between

“But most of it is mental fatigue and he looks in a good place.

“He looks like he’s enjoying his training, enjoying his football which is a great position to be in.”

Physical fatigue would be obvious with the statistics available to clubs now, but how does Dyche measure any sign of mental fatigue?: “It is difficult, there is not an exact science to it.

“It’s feedback from your staff, feedback from everyone. Everyone keeps an eye on the players, we’ve got a good feeling here around the group so Lee (Martin) our kit man, he’ll sometimes say, ‘yeah the lads were a little bit flat today, a little bit quiet’, he’ll monitor it because he’s been here a long time, and that’s the good side of being at a club a long time.

“I’d like to think most of the players I know very, very quickly, within a matter of words, whether they’re high, low, good, happy, not so happy, because I get used to them, their body language, the words they use, their tonality, all those things. So you register it very quickly.”

And he joked: “With Dwight it’s very difficult because he normally only says about three words. So I have to examine those three words and somehow make an opinion in three words.

“Hi Dwight … “gaff” … ok, let’s crack on then kid, you’re playing again at the weekend!”