Sean Dyche is delighted with the levels of consistency Dwight McNeil has shown since breaking into the side.
McNeil, who is expected to be named in the England Under 21 squad tomorrow, is in lime for his 30th Premier League appearance against Everton at Turf Moor on Saturday.
And, still only 19, Dyche points out he has yet to really suffer a dip in performance.
You can only really point to the game at Newcastle in February when he was withdrawn at the break, as one occasion when he failed to hit the heights.
Other than that, however, he has well and truly proved he belongs at this level.
Dyche isn’t surprised by how he has taken his opportunity: “I think over time it’s not surprising how well he’s done, it’s the consistency he’s done it with.
“Because young players coming into a side can have ups and downs, quiet periods.
“But he’s not really had that many quiet periods, he’s kept his consistency high.
“I don’t think I’ve been surprised because otherwise I would not have put him in, it’s more of a respect for the way he’s adjusted and been so calm about it and kept his performance levels up. It’s more about respect rather than surprise.”
Dyche has a back ground in youth coaching at Watford, and enjoys the development aspect of his job.
He is enjoying watching McNeil progress: “He’s still maturing physically, he’s still maturing tactically and varying positions.
“I think the demands on him continue, but he’s handling it all very well. Off the pitch, he’s maturing as well.
“He’s a pretty steady lad. He enjoys his football, he doesn’t over think it and I think he’s got a healthy balance of knowing the demands of the team and the demands of the role but still having that smile on your face as Brian Clough used to say. He still looks like a kid in a sweet shop.
“‘I want to play, I want to be part of what’s going on’ and I think that’s a great position for a young player.
“To see players like Dwight continue to develop and absorb things, we haven’t over-coached him because when you’ve got a natural talent like that I always feel it’s best to let them develop and find their own way.
“Some players need coaching all the time to get them in the right positions, but he can naturally find his way around the football pitch, he’s got good pitch geography, very good for a young player, and his reading of the game is improving.”
McNeil has already started for the first team earlier last season, against Olympiakos in the Europa League, and Manchester United - the club who released him at 14 - in the Premier League.
But after the low point of Burnley’s season, the 5-1 defeat to Everton on Boxing Day, he was back in to face West Ham, scoring in a 2-0 win.
And he has not looked back: “I think the main thing for Dwight was getting the chance when he first came in. For the first few games he did very well and then it’s a case of can they consider themselves part of what we do and then grow into it?
“Some young players have a flier and then it eases down a bit. He hasn’t really done that and he’s continued in the side by merit, by his performance levels. His adaptation levels to the Premier League have been excellent.
“Going away in the summer, you wonder what he will be like when he came back, but he’s been fit, he’s been active and alive. All good from that point of view.
“From the England point of view, I’m sure he’s very proud of that and if it comes his way, he’ll give everything towards it.”