Burnley manager Sean Dyche has welcomed England recalls for Tom Heaton and James Tarkowski.
Heaton has been called up for the first time since the summer of 2017, before he sustained the serious shoulder injury that ruled him out for most of last season, while Tarkowski has twice undergone hernia surgery.
Dyche said: “I think it’s another marker. Two very, very professional people doing well, particularly since Christmas with Tarky, I think his form’s been very good, and Heats coming back into the side.
“I think it’s good that Gareth (Southgate) has recognised him before, and the top-quality professional that he is. And also with Dwight McNeil getting a call-up to the under-20s. It’s great for Dwight and he continues to earn the right for those things to happen to him.
“It’s good for them and good for the club to continue to be recognised at international level, not just for England. That’s a big shift from when I first arrived here, that’s for sure.”
Heaton had to play second fiddle behind Nick Pope at the end of last season, watching his team-mate head to the World Cup instead of him, and was then usurped by Joe Hart over the first part of this campaign.
But Heaton was recalled following a 5-1 loss to Everton on Boxing Day and his return coincided with an eight-game unbeaten run.
Nineteen-year-old winger McNeil came into the side at the same time and has started every game since, impressing with his positive intent and scoring his first Premier League goal in the win over West Ham in December.
So impressive has his form been that defender Phil Bardsley believes he should have been called up for the England Under-21 side.
“I was quite surprised with him being in the under-20s, I thought he’d be pushing for the under-21s, his performances have been that good,” said Bardsley.
“His performance last week especially against Liverpool was outstanding, he was probably our best player. His performances are growing and he is as a person as well.
“If you see the other players who are in, (Callum) Hudson-Odoi and (Phil) Foden in the under-21s, I think Dwight deserves to be in there with them.”
Dyche, though, does not see it as a slight, saying: “There’s a bit of loyalty in international football. I know (under-21s boss) Aidy (Boothroyd) and he’s got a group there who’ve done well.
“The under-20s have done well as well, obviously, so I don’t think it’s a given that just because you’re playing in the Premier League you should definitely play in those groups.
“But I think he’s earned the right to get involved with the under-20s and I think if he does well there then in due course he will be recognised in the under-21s, but one step at a time and he’s going on very nicely at the moment.”
The eight-game unbeaten run has been followed by three straight defeats, pulling the Clarets back to just outside the relegation zone.
Last weekend was particularly costly, with a series of defensive mistakes costing Burnley in a 4-2 defeat by Liverpool while Cardiff, Southampton, Brighton and Newcastle all won.
Dyche remains positive about his team’s form, though, saying: “I thought the only thing was the four details, the rest of the performance I was reasonably happy with.
“Where we were to where we are now is a big shift from earlier in the season and you’d take it all day. We’ve stuck in 18 points since Christmas. We’ve got more to come I think – we’ve got to have more to come.”
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