There is no denying that Burnley's impressive 2017-18 Premier League campaign has been one of the stories of the season. A team expected to be fighting to avoid the drop produced a series of impressive results to finish in the top seven and qualify for the Europa League.
Gudmundsson and Pope flying the flag
Yet only two Burnley players have been included in World Cup squads for Russia 2018 and one is still yet to make his international debut. Nick Pope travels with England but is likely to be the third choice goalkeeper behind Jack Butland and Jordan Pickford, whilst Johann Berg Gudmundsson is the only Claret expected to play a prominent part in the tournament as he lines up for World Cup debutants Iceland.
Such a statistic only helps to further underpin how much Burnley have overachieved this season. An England call would have been a distant thought for Pope who had never even played in the Premier League ten months ago. Similarly, James Tarkowski should be delighted with his progress after going close to making Gareth Southgate's squad and finding himself on the reserve list.
The only players who would have realistically considered an opportunity to perform in Russia were Gudmundsson and Belgium's Steven Defour. Unfortunately for the latter, injury curtailed his season early and he has since announced his retirement from international football.
Embed from Getty Images
A trio with experience
Only three players in the current Burnley squad have played in a World Cup before, a small percentage of the 114 who stepped foot on Premier League turf this season. Aaron Lennon made five appearances during the 2006 and 2010 competitions, whilst top goalscorer Chris Wood also featured in the competition eight years ago. Defour is the only other Claret to play on the global stage but got sent off in his one and only match four years ago.
Despite that lack of experience on such a platform, Burnley competed with squads drowning in World Cup memories. Arsenal finished one place and nine points above the Clarets after fielding ten players who have performed at the iconic tournament. The Lancashire side's closest rivals were Everton who boasted seven players with experience of playing at World Cups, including four former England representatives.
In fact, only five Premier League teams fielded fewer players who have been to World Cup than Burnley. All three teams that got relegated had at least four players who have memories of playing in the competition.
Ireland well represented
Burnley do have international experience in their ranks. Gudmundsson leads the way with 65 Iceland appearances, closely followed by Sam Vokes who recently picked up his 59th cap for Wales. Wood has played over 50 times for New Zealand, whilst a quintet of Irish players have a collective record of 185 matches for their country.
Yet the Clarets are ranked 16th for international experience out of the sides that competed in the Premier League last season, a figure reflected in their market value. With a total squad cost of £36.45 million, only five teams have spent less money assembling their team than Sean Dyche.
When you consider Leicester City's squad value is worth almost eight times as much as Burnley and the Clarets finished above the former Premier League champions, it certainly puts into perspective just how well they have performed this season.