Sean Dyche has highlighted teenage winger Dwight McNeil’s key role in Burnley’s remarkable change in fortunes.
The Clarets beat Cardiff City 2-0 at Turf Moor on Saturday to effectively ensure Premier League survival, as they moved 11 points clear of the drop zone.
That meant they have collected an impressive 27 points from 15 games since the halfway stage of the season, when they sat in the bottom three on 12 points.
That sequence of form has coincided with the return of skipper Tom Heaton, as well as McNeil, who has also started all 15 games in that spell.
The 19-year-old claimed another two assists on Saturday to take his tally to seven – more than the likes of Willian, David Silva, Ross Barkley, James Maddison and David Brooks.
He also has three goals to his name, marking him out as statistically the best-performing teenager in the Premier League this season.
McNeil signed a new deal to the summer of 2023, with the option of a further year, back in January, as a sign of his progress and development.
And Dyche said: “Fantastic, he’s a real talent.
“I’ve said it for weeks now, and a long time ago when he first came into the side.
“He’s a really good player.
“He’s improving, his calmness at the end – I’m saying get it in the corner – but he cuts in, and his calmness to cross it into a dangerous area, and then gets his reward.
“Before the, his calmness to dribble out of trouble – he’s a really good player, really good, and he can only mature.
“He’s certainly showing good signs of that and we’re really pleased for him, for the work he puts in, and it’s not been easy – it’s not been an easy turnaround to get to where we’ve got to, still more to come, but he’s played a big part in that.”
That turnaround has seen the Clarets rescue a testing season with four games to play – tough fixtures against Chelsea, Everton, Manchester City and Arsenal.
Dyche isn’t accepting his side are safe until it is mathematically certain, but he is keen to build on their outstanding form since Boxing Day, with a trip to Stamford Bridge next up on Easter Monday.
He said: “People will talk about being safe but we want to make sure factually.
“It is a big gap and an important gap, it was a massive game and we know we have a tough run in, everyone has been telling me that for months.
“The bigger picture is that we have 27 points from 15 games, you can’t luck that from 12 points from 19 games.
“The lads have been terrific.
“We are going to have to carry on of course, but the history of the Premier League suggests we are i a very strong position, but we have to make sure factually.”