Clarets new boy told to battle for place
Burnley boss Sean Dyche says new boy Danny Drinkwater is fit and raring to go but faces a battle to get into the Clarets' first-team.
The former England midfielder joined the Clarets on Thursday on a loan deal from Chelsea until January and, on his best form, his quality would clearly be a big asset to Dyche’s men as they look to become an established Premier League side.
But the Burnley boss is known as a manager who keeps faith with players producing results and it would be a surprise if he does not select the same eleven for next week’s trip to Arsenal after a 3-0 victory over Southampton provided a perfect start to the season on Saturday afternoon.
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Drinkwater joined Chelsea two years ago after playing a key role in Leicester’s Premier League title win but was frozen out last season at Stamford Bridge, with his only appearance coming in the Community Shield a year ago.
The midfielder has a lot to prove and there may have been a big question mark over how fit he was after so long in the wilderness. Dyche has moved quickly to say that fitness is not an issue, but he will not walk straight in, especially after the team performance against Saints.
“He’s actually come in and he’s fit,” Dyche said. “We’ve tested him, so he’s more getting used to us. I wasn’t going to throw him in today no matter what.
“He knows he’s got work now. He’ll have watched that today and he’ll have thought, ‘right, OK, it’s game on’, it’s not just bowling in and getting in the side. Which he wouldn’t think anyway, he’s got a good manner to him and I like the way he’s got an edge.
“We want competition. It has to be respectful and I think there’s a bundle of respect here for each other as players.”
With Charlie Taylor still playing catch-up after a pre-season injury, Dyche gave summer signing Erik Pieters a full debut at left-back and the former Stoke man seized his opportunity, setting up two goals for Ashley Barnes.
Striker Jay Rodriguez, meanwhile, had to make do with a place on the bench following his return to his home-town club and was given a noisy welcome when he came on as a late substitute.
“Erik’s laid down a real marker,” said Dyche. “He’s come in with that real edge to him. He hasn’t come in expecting to play, equally he hasn’t come in thinking he’s not going to play, he’s had a real open mind.
“With Jay, obviously we’ve got two strikers who were terrific for us last season, both got goals. He’ll get plenty of football, I’m sure of that. I like the combination.”