Burnley winger Dwight McNeil wants to be the 'centre' of attention

Dwight McNeil is gunning for a more central role with Burnley in the future.

Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 8:00 am

The 21-year-old was first introduced to the number 10 position by ex-Clarets defender Michael Duff when operating in a 4-3-3 for the Under 23s.

The Young Lion had also featured at the tip of a diamond formation on his passage through to the first team when working under Steve Stone.

"When I was in the U23s and Duffo became manager he introduced me to the 10 position quite a bit in a 4-3-3," said McNeil.

Dwight McNeil of Burnley battles for possession with Stuart Armstrong of Southampton during the Premier League match between Southampton and Burnley at St Mary's Stadium on April 04, 2021 in Southampton, England.

"That helped me a lot and opened my eyes more on what I can do when I am in the centre of the pitch.

"When Stoney was U23s manager he played me a bit at the bottom of a diamond in holding midfield which is also a nice position to play because you can dictate the game more.

"I think going forward in my career I would like to play more centrally but at the minute I am happy to play left midfield."

The former Manchester United academy star has now clocked up more than 100 appearances in the Premier League for Burnley.

Jordan Lotomba of Switzerland (L) and Dwight McNeil of England fight for the ball during the 2021 UEFA European Under-21 Championship Group D football match between England and Switzerland at Bonifika Stadium in Koper, on March 25, 2021.

In that time he's increased his tally to 21 goal contributions, netting seven times in total.

Those numbers place McNeil right at the forefront of the club's creativity charts, but he doesn't feel as though there is any extra weight being placed on his shoulders.

"When I first came in I don't think many people knew me or what I was about," he said. "Obviously, now I think more people understand who I am as a player because I've been in the team for so long.

"The expectations get higher but I don't feel there's any more added pressure on me because the other players don't put pressure on me and neither does the gaffer.

Dwight McNeil of Burnley celebrates after scoring their team's second goal during the Premier League match between Everton and Burnley at Goodison Park on March 13, 2021 in Liverpool, England.

"I'm just focusing on my football and as the gaffer says, enjoying it every week and hopefully keep playing games every week.

"We have a lot of creative players in our team but it is nice to be named as one of them."

McNeil is constantly demanding more from himself. In his first season, in a spell of 20 games, he either scored or assisted in successive games three times.

The winger, however, has only managed to achieve that feat on one occasion since. And he's determined to polish up on his productivity.

He said: "I think [I've improved] in every aspect; psychologically, mentally and physically, in and out of possession.

"We have strength and conditioning coaches, every part of my game has improved but every day I try to improve myself as a player and get better as a person on and off the pitch.

"We know we are a team that won't always have the ball so when we do have it, it’s crucial. So it’s learning to stay involved and focussed when you do get it.

"In possession I think I need to impact more games with goals and assists. That’s the thing I always look to improve on.

"I feel I can do better defensively. But I start work every day in training and believe I can be a better player."