Midfield pairing impresses Sean Dyche in Sunderland stalemate

Midfield pairing impresses Sean Dyche in Sunderland stalemate

The Burnley boss was equally pleased with his fringe players, who earned his admiration following Burnley's FA Cup tie.

Jordan Eyre

Sean Dyche says he was encouraged by the midfield partnership of Steven Defour and Joey Barton during Burnley’s 0-0 draw against Sunderland in the FA Cup.

The Clarets looked the likeliest side to advance through to the fourth round of the competition, in part due to the ‘control’ Dyche feels his latest midfield axis were able to offer.

Defour completed a first 90 minutes for the club since his arrival in mid-August, while Barton also played the entirety of the match in what was the 34-year-old’s second Burnley debut.

Dyche believed Barton ‘did well’ and that his ‘fitness was good, it’s not easy coming in after the break he’s had, and he stayed calm with the ball,’ while Defour ‘got through his first 90 minutes, which I’m pleased about… he gathered pace as the game went on.’

'I'm pleased with how they handled it today'

The Burnley boss also heaped praise on those who had been on the periphery of the squad this term, with James Tarkowski and Tendayi Darikwa handed rare starts in place of Ben Mee and Matthew Lowton respectively. Nick Pope, too, deputised for club skipper Tom Heaton.

On those changes, Dyche said ‘we’re working with a squad where there’s fine margins between the players, and I’m pleased with how they handled it today,’ before he expressed his delight ‘with the fitness of those haven’t played regularly… Darikwa particularly – fantastic to come in and play like he did physically.’

Former Charlton Athletic stopper Pope was also singled out for special praise from the manager, with Dyche insisting the 24-year-old is ‘a good keeper who’s learning all the time, his kicking was good and he’s a giant of a man… he played with an assured manner.’

There were, however, negatives for Dyche to bemoan in the aftermath of Saturday’s stalemate, with injuries to a midfield pair proving to be a blemish on an otherwise positive performance from his side.

The Turf Moor chief says he’ll ‘have to wait and see’ over ‘two minor hamstring’ injuries to Scott Arfield and Johann Berg Gudmundsson, while Jon Flanagan and George Boyd were omitted from the visitors’ squad ‘with niggles, I don’t think they’re a worry.

Dyche also added striker Patrick Bamford was ruled out through illness.