January signings Hjalmar Ekdal and Ameen Al-Dakhil have the tools and mentality to succeed at Burnley — says boss Vincent Kompany
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Whether it's by design, or enforced, the central defensive duo have already been thrust into first team action, despite having just a matter of weeks to settle into their new environment.
Ekdal, 24, made his goal-scoring debut a fortnight after completing his switch from Swedish Allsvenskan side Djurgaardens, partnering Jordan Beyer as the Clarets kept a clean sheet against Norwich City at Carrow Road.
Former St Truiden centre back Al-Dakhil, who featured home and away against Ipswich Town in the fourth round of the FA Cup, was then handed his Championship debut, partnering Ekdal for just under an hour against Watford after Beyer suffered a recurrence of a muscular problem.
The German Under 21 international, who joined Manchester City starlet Taylor Harwood-Bellis on the sidelines, is a major doubt for games against Luton Town and Millwall, meaning the club's eighth different centre back partnership could carry on from where it left off at Kenilworth Road.
"Performances are one thing, but I look at the tools of players and their attitude," Kompany told the Burnley Express. "The things clear to us are that they have the tools, they definitely have the right mentality to fit within this club, the only thing is that there's a massive gap in knowledge in comparison to other players, because the other players are six months ahead.
"Ideally you don't want to rely on them too quickly, but it is the case now, so can we speed up the process? How quickly have they learned? That's a question we'll get the answers to in the next couple of weeks, but that won't change what I think about them for the future. They've got the right tools and they're in the right place."
Burnley's new recruits coped with their first challenge particularly well, restricting the likes of Senegal international Ismaila Sarr, goal-scorer Joao Pedro, Keinan Davis and Ismael Kone to zero shots on target in the second half at Turf Moor as the home side left it late to snatch a point.
However, Kompany has warned that they'll face a completely different type of threat against the Hatters at the weekend and at the hands of the Lions at The Den.
“They’ve done well and they’ll face completely different challenges," Kompany said. "I don’t think you can compare Norwich, Ipswich, Watford, who are very good teams by the way, but you can’t compare them with Luton and Millwall, so they’re different challenges in the league that you have to overcome.
“For me as a coach, I’m looking forward to it because they’re the type of games you need for your development and I’m looking forward to having those kind of games as well to add to the experience of the team. They’re really important in us progressing.”