Sean Dyche believes Burnley have gone from strength to strength since being thumped by Everton on Boxing Day, claiming the defeat marked a “turning point” in last season and beyond.
Everton’s last visit to Turf Moor saw them walk away with a comprehensive 5-1 victory, a result that left Burnley three points adrift of safety in the Premier League at the halfway stage of the campaign.
Burnley retained their top-flight status and have made a decent fist to the start of this term, taking nine points from their opening seven fixtures to sit 11th ahead of Everton’s visit on Saturday afternoon.
The Burnley manager said: “It was actually the turning point of the season and I think we all realigned after that. There were a lot of positives out of that game in a strange kind of way.
“It wasn’t an enjoyable game for us at the time but looking back it was something that gave us a kick-start into the second half of the season.
“You all know the story from then on in and still going on now because I think we’ve been strong in the early part of this season as well.”
Everton counterpart Marco Silva finds himself under pressure after a run of four defeats in their last five league matches, including three successive losses.
Dyche added: “The Premier League is difficult, we all know that. Whether they’re inconsistent or not, they’ve still good players, good individuals.
“We’ve all spoken about it as managers at varying times. The demands of the game are forever higher, the demands within clubs are forever higher, it’s just the way it is.
“I’m sure he’s working diligently to try and help his side to perform like all managers do.”
Dyche welcomed Nick Pope’s inclusion in the England squad for the Euro 2020 qualifying trips to the Czech Republic and Bulgaria later this month.
Asked whether he could supplant Jordan Pickford as Gareth Southgate’s preferred number one, Dyche sid: “Without doubt.
“But that is time, trust, form, relationships and all those things that go into the melting pot to making a side and that is Gareth’s decision.”
While Dyche respects Southgate’s choices, the former Watford manager has been left puzzled by the continued absences of Burnley captain Ben Mee and fellow centre-half James Tarkowski.
Dyche said: “I am surprised given the performances (Tarkowski) has been putting in but I have been surprised by Ben Mee over the past couple of years. In my opinion, Tarky or Ben Mee could be called up.
“There are different reasons for managers to like different players and I respect that. It is not my job to pick the England squad, it is up to Gareth and I get on well with Gareth so there is no disrespect there.”
Reports in Italy this week have claimed Inter Milan are targeting Clarets forward Jay Rodriguez, who only rejoined his hometown club during the summer.
Dyche laughed off the speculation, adding: “In my time here I’ve had some weird and wonderful things and that’s certainly in my top-10 and probably in my top-five.
“He’s just rejoined the club for one. I don’t know where that one’s come from, that’s for sure.”