‘We have to keep fighting’ - Burnley boss Sean Dyche’s focus on Fulham clash
Sean Dyche expects another battling display from his side as they look to move eight points clear of trouble.
Burnley have picked up 11 points from the 18 available in December, only bettered by Manchester United, Everton and Liverpool.
That has seen the Clarets claw their way up the table to 16th, with a five-point cushion over the Cottagers in 18th.
A third-successive home win would stretch that buffer, but Dyche knows his players will have to dig deep against a side who have lost only one of their last six, with four-straight draws.
It remains to be seen if the game will go ahead, after Fulham's game at Spurs on Wednesday was called off three hours before kick-off because of a number of positive coronavirus tests.
Fulham boss Scott Parker was set to return to the dugout at his former club, after coming out of isolation after a member of his household tested positive for Covid-19, but he expressed his doubts about Sunday’s fixture taking place, saying: “We travel up tomorrow (Saturday), and had testing today, results will come back on that morning so at the moment it's full steam ahead. The wellbeing of players is paramount.”
Dyche, with a new chairman in Alan Pace in the directors’ box, is focused purely on putting in a performance: "I've made it clear many times I'm never really overly concerned with tables.
”The one at the end of the season is the most important.
"It doesn't actually mean anything until the end of the season.
"We've earned the right over the last number of games - possibly crying it in a bit I thought we deserved more at Leeds for different reasons, that might have added another point, possibly three.
”But I think the return at the moment is very good considering the challenge we've had, and the ongoing challenge.
”I think we've done very well thus far, we have to keep going, keep fighting to win games.
”I thought that was on show (against Sheffield United) for different reasons, the way we saw the game through.
”That's an important factor for us in the Premier League. I've always said, no matter who you are in the Premier League, or any level of football, when you're really on your performance level, you win a game and look back on it and think 'that was a deserved win' and more come.
"When you're not, they're the ones that are really important, when you're not quite on it and the opposition are good. I thought that was the case (on Tuesday).
”I thought Sheffield United put in a really good performance and we came out of it with a win.
"Then we go on to the Fulham game and we might have to do that again.
”They've got some quality, they're working the players hard to get them to perform, we've got to find those margins and find those moments and we've done that very successfully over a number of seasons but we'll have to do it again."
Fulham, like Burnley in 2016, were promoted at the first attempt after relegation from the Premier League, and Dyche added: "I know Scotty a little bit. I thought they did a good job in getting over the line last season, not easy.
"An indifferent start, which can happen, and then they're just beginning to find their way a little bit more.
"Newcomers to the Premier League, it's not an easy task, and I always say you've got to earn the right to be in the Premier League and once you've earned the right then you've got to take it seriously. We'll certainly be prepping as seriously as we did (for Sheffield United).
"The players are under no illusions about the challenge of every game in the Premier League so our focus will be on enhancing and operating the manner that we feel can affect the game.”
As with Burnley, Fulham are becoming harder to beat, and Dyche noted: "Every team in the Premier League is looking for that balance. Possibly they might have looked at it and thought they needed to tighten up a bit from early season.
"The players will be learning and they'll get more used to the demands of the Premier League. Even when you understand the Premier League it still doesn't make it easy.
"We will be ready, I know that.”