No room for sentiment as Burnley boss Sean Dyche focuses on performance ahead of Tom Heaton’s return with Aston Villa

Not one for sentiment, Sean Dyche doesn’t care who is in the Aston Villa goal tomorrow - he is only interested in his side turning in a performance.


Tom Heaton makes his first return to Turf Moor since joining Villa for £8m in the summer, after six glorious years with the Clarets.

Tom Heaton

Tom Heaton

Heaton twice won promotion to the Premier League with Burnley, once as captain, and earned all three of his England caps with the club.

Dyche again noted: “He was terrific for us”, but, as Burnley look to extend or preserve the six-point gap between them and Villa in 18th, his focus is on building on what he felt was a good second half display in the 2-0 defeat at home to Manchester United on Saturday: “I think it is important for us to perform, the table at the end of the season is the one I am interested in.

“The performance level has got to stay where it was in the second half.

“The last couple of wins we have ground out, but I thought second half we tried to forge a win and plan a win, and I think that was better, and we have to do that better going forward.”

Villa sit in the relegation zone, despite only Manchester United spending more in the summer transfer window.

Dyche admits it is a tough call for promoted sides to stick or twist with the players who got them up: “It is difficult. You spend or you don't spend.

“They have spent a fortune, and it has worked in spells and then it hasn't.

“Chris Wilder has spent okay money, and it has worked but by sticking more or less to what he does and what the team does.

“Norwich have spent a bit less money and they are trying to rely on what they did, but it is so difficult.

“We have been through it and we still go through it every season, as it is a new challenge for us.

“In the early seasons when we first came in, it was difficult to find the right balance of the freshness and the experience you need to support your team and improve it, but maybe not take away too much of what got you there in the first place.

“It is tricky whether you spend money or you don't.”

Despite it being a third game in six days, Dyche feels the recovery time from Saturday is sufficient for his players to go again: “They are professional footballers, it is their job isn't it!

“If you are Liverpool then they have it tough, because they go through a lot of games, but for us generally, it is week to week.

“The two games in three days is tough, but we have a few days recovery so I am expecting them to be physically right.”

Regardless, Dyche has options to freshen up his side, with Johann Berg Gudmundsson having come off the bench in the last two games, while Jay Rodriguez is making himself hard to leave out at present: “They are all in the thinking. We want to win games and I have to make decisions, and I want them all fit so that I do have those decisions to make.

“Jay looked sharp when he came on and I was pleased with that.

“There were no disappointments with him coming out of the side.

“Robbie (Brady) came on and tried to affect it.

“I love that about the mentality and the respect they have for each other, and what they have for the group because it is disappointing when you are taken out, but they have to be motivated to come on and affect it.

“It is different for Johann, who has been out and is working his way back.”

Dyche briefly tinkered with his system in the second half against United, going to more of a 4-2-3-1/4-3-3, before returning to the 4-4-2: “We have messed around with the shape last season early in the season when we were trying to affect it, and statistically it didn't work, so sometimes there is a view of common sense and the group we have got.

“We changed it (against United) and we went flat and put it back to what we do, and we grew again, so there is a reason why I tend to use the formation we do, because it has been effective.”