Defender Erik Pieters had backed Burnley to beat the drop from square one

Premier League survival was never in doubt for Burnley defender Erik Pieters - even after the club's less than convincing start to the campaign.

The Clarets had only managed to post a solitary point on to the board six games into the season having held West Bromwich Albion to a goalless draw at The Hawthorns in October.

Burnley s poor start had been matched by both Fulham and Sheffield United, but Sean Dyche's side were already seven points adrift of Newcastle United in 15th.

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It was the worst start to a season in the club's history. However, former Netherlands international Pieters didn't grow concerned at any point.

Erik Pieters of Burnley reacts during the FA Cup Third Round match between Burnley and Milton Keynes Dons at Turf Moor on January 09, 2021 in Burnley, England.

"We will definitely stay up, that has never been in doubt," he said. "I always put my trust in the team to perform and stay up.

"It has never been in doubt even after a difficult start to the season. We just knew we could turn it around. That is how we are and what we believed so I never doubted that fact."

The Clarets, now heading into their 30th game of the term against Southampton at St Mary's, have managed to turn things around since.

They share the same points return and goal difference as the Saints, who are 14th in the table, and have opened up a seven-point gap from the bottom three while owning a game in hand.

Erik Pieters of Burnley is challenged by Roberto Firminho of Liverpool during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Burnley at Anfield on January 21, 2021 in Liverpool, England.

"Seeing the group that we have here, the mentality is top notch," said Pieters. "Everyone is willing to work for each other in every single position and that is how you are strong as a team and collect the points.

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"It's a special achievement given the start that we had to see where we are now. The biggest achievement is that we've continued to play as well as we have done during lockdown, which has been really difficult without fans."

The 32-year-old, who will make his 50th appearance for the club if he plays any part in the fixture on the South Coast, recently prolonged his time at Turf Moor after an option to extend his contract until the end of the 2021-22 season was activated by the club.

Pieters revealed that he feels at home at Burnley and he hasn't ruled out the idea of ending his career at the club.

Manchester United's English striker Marcus Rashford (L) vies with Burnley's Dutch defender Erik Pieters during the English Premier League football match between Burnley and Manchester United at Turf Moor in Burnley, north west England on January 12, 2021.
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He said: "We still live around Cheshire and I didn't have to move to play for Burnley.

"It is a great club, a great group of lads that support you on and off the pitch. I think that is really, really important.

"Everyone is there for you and I really, really feel at home at Burnley and am happy to extend my career here by another year, but it's certainly not my last."