'˜Defour was best player on pitch'
Sean Dyche feels midfielder Steven Defour is showing the fruits of his labour in pre-season.
The Belgium international looked likely to leave Turf Moor in the summer, having started only one game since the end of January.
But, with no acceptable offers on the table for either club or player – a loan bid from Olympiakos dismissed out of hand – the former Porto man returned to the Barnfield Training Centre in July determined to establish himself at the club and in the Premier League.
His quality has never been in doubt, but, that, allied with improved levels of fitness, and a better understanding of what is required of him at Burnley, has led to a renaissance at the club.
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Defour has started all six Premier League games to date, and has worked his way back into Roberto Martinez’s Red Devils squad.
He was outstanding in the goal-less draw with Huddersfield Town at Turf Moor, winning the sponsors’ man of the match award.
Dyche agreed, and admits he told the player so after the game: “He’s worked very hard in pre-season and that’s been a massive shift for him – his understanding of the game in the Premier League has grown enormously.
“He can play – his technical ability, his awareness of the game – but his work ethic and his reading of the play off the ball was absolutely fantastic, and I’ve told him so.
“I don’t always do that with individuals, but he was the best player on the pitch by a mile.”