06 March 2022

Sean Dyche backs Dwight McNeil to deal with criticism from Burnley supporters

06 March 2022

Sean Dyche has told Dwight McNeil to treat the criticism he has received from sections of the Burnley support as part of his development.

McNeil missed Burnley’s best chance in a goalless first half at Turf Moor on Saturday before they crumbled after the break, conceding three goals in nine minutes on their way to a 4-0 defeat to Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea.

McNeil, 22, has scored seven goals in 134 appearances for Burnley since breaking into the side during the 2018-19 season, but has only one goal this campaign and is yet to register an assist despite starting all but one of the Clarets’ Premier League games this season.

His performances have begun to attract some criticism from sections of the Turf Moor support, with the frustration apparent both after his miss and when he was unable to capitalise on an opportunity to hit Chelsea on the break while the match was goalless.

Dyche said: “I thought Dwight was terrific I’ve got to be honest, apart from not scoring a goal. The bravery to come and get the ball, getting questioned for probably the first time – it’s part of his development.

“Our fans are very fair, they’re questioning him at the minute, but he’s a fine young player and part of his development will be playing under those circumstances.

“But he never shied away from the ball, he kept coming to get it, even though he knew the crowd were just giving him a little bit.

“At the end of the day, that’s part of being a footballer and his growth as a footballer, but (the defeat) wasn’t about Dwight – first half he was terrific, him and Aaron Lennon.”

Saturday was the first time Burnley have conceded four in a single match since their 4-0 defeat to Leeds in May last year once safety had already been secured.

Ben Mee was missing with a knee injury, and Burnley are now winless in their last 14 matches without their skipper, losing 10 of them.

“Ben’s knee has hopefully settled down this week, it was a close one but he wasn’t right, he couldn’t walk properly,” Dyche said. “It’s a bad knock, not a twist.

“But there’s no slight on (Nathan Collins), he did well. It’s not an individual thing, it was a collective thing. That eight minutes wasn’t about any individuals.”

Defeat keeps Burnley in the bottom three, having now missed two opportunities to move out of the relegation zone for the first time since November with back-to-back defeats following the run of seven points from three games at the end of February.

The focus is now on next weekend’s trip to Brentford, who moved six points clear of the Clarets by beating Norwich on Saturday.

“When we were coming into this run, I don’t think people thought we’d get the points we have,” Dyche said. “Every game is now a big game, not just one.”

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