Clarets boss is focused on destination, not the journey
Losing top spot in the Championship has not affected Clarets boss Sean Dyche's focus.
An injury time Adam Forshaw goal gave Middlesbrough a 2-1 win over Reading at the Riverside on Tuesday night, as Aitor Karanka’s side leapfrogged Burnley at the top.
That came 24 hours after Brighton snatched a last-gasp winner through Steve Sidwell to move to within two points of the Clarets.
Both Boro – who are live on Sky at relegated Bolton on Saturday lunchtime (kick-off 12-30 p.m.) and Brighton, who host Fulham tomorrow night (kick-off 7-45 p.m.) due to the Brighton Marathon taking place tomorrow – play again before Burnley take on Birmingham City at St Andrew’s on Saturday at 3 p.m.
The Clarets could well be third come kick-off time, but still in the knowledge that if they win their remaining five games, they will go up as champions.
Dyche said: “We can only control the controllables, we can’t look outside that.
“The task is to focus on ourselves as ever, on what we can control, so we focus on the next game at Birmingham, and keep the belief that we have been showing.
“It is a great challenge in front of us, and an exciting time to try and get to where we want to go, and we’ll keep going and see where it takes us.”
Burnley’s eyes are firmly on automatic promotion, and the title itself, but they are, at least, guaranteed a play-off place with five games remaining, which is an achievement in itself.
Dyche acknowledged: “At the start of the season, with all the changes, we were fifth or sixth favourites, we had a bit of an up and down start, and at Christmas most people thought we would be around the play-offs.
“But we have built momentum on this 18-game unbeaten run and got to where we are now, and the goalposts have changed.
“We’re here now and we know what we want to happen, it’s not about the journey, it’s about the destination.”
Dyche is hopeful of having both striker Sam Vokes and midfielder David Jones available to face Birmingham tomorrow, after both were withdrawn in the 1-0 win over Leeds.
Dyche said: “Jonah was ill, but came back in earlier this week and was generally okay, so we will monitor him down to game time.
“And Vokesy had a minor groin/abductor, but we got him off early, so we’re a bit more confident he’ll be available.
“They’re not doubtful at the moment, common-sensically they are 50/50, but we hope that will increase after training today (Thursday).”
Chris Long won’t be available, but is improving after a hamstring injury: “Longy’s not there yet, but he’s getting stronger.”
Lukas Jutkiewicz has played 45 and 65 minutes over the week for the Development Squad as he returns after a cruciate knee ligament injury, and Dyche is delighted with his progress: “We’re really pleased for Jukes.
“He’s had no reaction, and is building up the games programme now.
“Just to be out there is brilliant, and we’ll see how he goes.
“It’s about common sense and building him up now.”