Could fitness and conditioning be the key to Burnley's survival hopes?

Sean Dyche has worked hard on improving the conditioning of his squad, with George Boyd leading the way for the newly promoted side.

Could fitness and conditioning be the key to Burnley's survival hopes?
Boyd is possibly the fittest player in the league (photo: Getty Images)

Burnley manager Sean Dyche believes his squad is one of the fittest in the league and he hopes that encouraging his players to "go the extra mile" will help them cement their place in England's top flight.

"It's a good weapon to have"

Dyche has looked into the game mathematically and believes "games are maybe 95 minutes, roughly speaking. The ball's in play in a high quality game for 58 to 60 minutes, on a lower quality game for 48 to 52 minutes, so you might have the ball for a minute".

The former defender's focus is on what his players do during those large periods of the match without the ball. "You better be active, you better be understanding the game, you better be tactically savvy, making runs where you don't even get the ball to affect others. You better be making runs to get the ball, defending, getting in your shape".

Dyche has suggested "it's a good weapon to have and we're renowned for being a fit side anyway. If you've got the energy and do it well then it's bound to be a better tool than not having it". The Burnley manager believes it is a philosophy employed by the likes of Pep Guardiola, Antonio Conte and Mauricio Pochettino. "They've got some of the top boys in the market and they're getting them fitter".

Boyd and Heaton lead the way

The comments come after George Boyd topped the sprints chart with an impressive 555 in the first seven games of the season, at an average of 79 per match, despite being 31 years of age. Dyche praised the former Peterborough United workhorse, claiming "for George to be showing on the top side of that is fair play and good credit to him".

He also held a special mention for goalkeeper Tom Heaton who has made 137 consecutive appearances since making his debut. Dyche praised Heaton's attitude off the pitch as a contributing factor to such an achievement. "He's an excellent professional and he buys into the culture and environment here. Not just the football side but the support of the football side, the dietary requirements, the strength and conditioning and he's used that wisely".