Sean Dyche again wouldn’t be drawn into talk of Europa League football, after Burnley reached 40 points with nine games to spare.
The Clarets equalled their best Premier League points return, set last season, as they cemented seventh place with a 2-1 win over Everton at Turf Moor on Saturday.
If a side finishing in the top five win the FA Cup – and Manchester United, Chelsea and Spurs are all quarter-finalists – seventh will be good enough for the Europa League, and a first continental campaign since reaching the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup last eight in 1967.
So can Burnley push on in the race for a Europa League spot?: “The next game is a goal, to build on that. I think we built on Southampton, which was solid, but that was a better performance, solid, plus moments of quality, energy, drive and that got us a nice win.”
The 40-point mark is generally seen as a guarantee of safety, and Dyche feels that is a sign of progress: “Forget talk of what it needs, it’s a big marker to get to 40 points with nine games to go. That’s not an easy thing to do. It took us a whole season last year.
“I’ve spoken about signs of improvement and developing and moving forward and that has to be a sign. You have to take that as a really strong marker, to get to 40 points now and still with football to play.”
Another sign of progress is having England boss Gareth Southgate as a regular visitor to Turf Moor.
Dyche said: “We have a good collection here of course, but for him to come here yet again is another tick box in the story of Burnley.
“We have the England manager coming here quite regularly to see what’s going on and remind himself of the players we’ve got. Fantastic in that sense as well.”
Burnley have a number of contenders for the squad, which will be named this week for the friendlies with Holland and Italy, and Dyche added: “Gareth, from time to time, will ask me about players, and the form they’re in, but I know how difficult it is to be a manager, so I certainly don’t force anyone on him, I give him a true opinion as I see it about these players and how I see it.”