BURNLEY boss Sean Dyche is calling for his players to develop a killer instinct in their push for a Championship play-off spot.
The Clarets have dropped six points from winning positions under Dyche’s tenure after surrendering leadings against Barnsley, Birmingham City and most recently Peterborough United - all away from home.
Though not drastic, Dyche feels those accumulated points, coupled with the 13 points lost during Eddie Howe’s reign, could have a major say on the club’s ambitions of nestling in the division’s top six.
Dyche, who has guided the Clarets to 20 points from the eight games where they’ve scored first, said: “The thing we have to improve at is that killer feel, that feel to really control a game and kill the opposition off.
“There are factors because there are 11 others out there trying to stop us doing that but I think that’s our next step, can we control a game and manage it all the way through?
“In the balance we have done that well lately, barring a referee’s decision over the last five or six games we’ve done that very well.
“But as ever I’m greedy and hungry for more and want the players to keep improving and keep developing to get more and more wins on the table.
“But that’s a real positive, to have that belief to keep going and keep going.
“That’s been on show since I’ve been here, it’s improving and it’s got us a point against Peterborough.”
The Clarets, sat in seventh, are perfectly poised for a shot at the play-offs with just four points separating them from Middlesbrough, though Tony Mowbray’s side have a game in hand. However, Dyche feels the mentality and the quality of his squad is ever-improving which bodes well for the challenge ahead.
“It’s a strange situation because Middlesbrough lost so it’s actually a point gained factually, but at half-time against Peterborough we were looking good and in a controlling position and you want to go and kill teams off,” said Dyche.
“It really sits in the balance, another point closer, just frustrating because we felt we had enough to win the game and we didn’t quite do it.
“That’s the kind of work in progress side of things, we’ve shown signs of it, four out of five wins, a referee’s decision which was rescinded which affected last week and we came here (London Road) in good spirits in good shape.
“We are pushing and we are getting stronger.
“I said to the lads afterwards that it’s important that that mentality to keep going is there because that’s what that side of the Championship is about.
“There’s 16 games to go, four points just outside of it, in good shape but we want more, we’re hungry and greedy to get more wins and see where it takes us.
“Goodness knows how many points we’ll need, statisticians will be all over it and tell me factually.
“It’s the oldest saying in the book but it really is true, most managers will tell you, you plan for each game as it comes because each game is another big game.
“Top, middle or bottom of the league everyone has something to play for, we’re in a good position, we’re pushing forward and that’s what we want to do.”
Meanwhile, Dyche is delighted with the form of his potent ‘strikers’ union’. Charlie Austin, Danny Ings, Sam Vokes and Martin Paterson have all found the back of the net in the last three outings while Ross Wallace, Junior Stanislas and Keith Treacy have been on the scoresheet since the New Year.
“We’ve managed to score from other areas, seven different scorers over a period of games but you are supplementing your strikers so it is great when your strikers get on the scoresheet,” Dyche said.
“Vokesy affected the game against Peterborough as well and has done well for us recently, Charlie has come in and will get fitter so all of a sudden we’ve got that sharpness to the top end of the pitch, which is always important.
“You want your strikers scoring, you want to be supplemented from other areas of course, but you want your strikers scoring and two of them got a goal so fantastic for them.”
The Burnley boss also insists that he has no major concern over the fitness of Michael Duff. The long-serving defender made his comeback at London Road after missing games against Millwall and Birmingham City but was withdrawn just after the break and replaced by David Edgar.
Dyche said: “Hopefully it’s nothing too serious. His calf was tight, he’s come back from his hamstring and he was fine all week but his calf was tight so we just had to be careful with that.”