Belfast Telegraph

Sean Dyche: Sunderland fans will be expecting a win against Burnley

Burnley boss Sean Dyche believes his side's dismal away form will pile all the pressure on rock-bottom Sunderland heading into Saturday's Premier League clash at the Stadium of Light.

The Clarets head to the north-east having picked up just two of their 31 points on their travels this season despite a much-improved display in the 2-1 defeat to Liverpool at Anfield last week.

Dismissing the notion of mind games, Dyche insisted it is inevitable that fans of other teams in the top flight will harbour strong expectations of claiming three points whenever his own side are the visitors.

Dyche said: "There will be a bigger expectation at their place because their fans will see it as 'you've got to beat them' - it's not mind games, I'm just trying to see how fans think.

"A couple of Liverpool fans told me it was very rare to see a Liverpool side trying to kill the game last week so I think that's a back-handed mark of respect for us, considering we haven't won away.

"The energy was good and some of the quality, so although we haven't won away there are strong signs of what we can do - but we have to add to that because factually we still haven't won a game."

Dyche is eager to break the away-day duck before the end of the season but knows it will pale into insignificance compared to the mighty achievement of securing his side's top-flight status with some games to spare.

Barring a colossal collapse, the Clarets ought to coast to survival leaving Dyche to reflect on the improvements made by the club since their previous Premier League campaign two years ago saw them immediately relegated back to the Championship.

Dyche added: "I think there is more experience for myself and the team - I think there's an openness to the challenge and there's certainly no over-thinking it.

"I think there's a nice balance to the thrill of being in the Premier League, but the calmness of knowing that you've got to deliver week in, week out, and there's still work to be done.

"There's a clarity to it - we know that nothing's a given, and we've got to continue to earn the right to stay in the Premier League on an ongoing basis."

Saturday's game will bring in-form Clarets striker Andre Gray up against the man who arguably cost him his first England call-up this week in 34-year-old Jermain Defoe.

Some had expected Gray to join team-mates Tom Heaton and Michael Keane in Gareth Southgate's squad for the games against Germany and Lithuania, but the England boss opted instead to end the Sunderland striker's four-year international exile.

Dyche had no complaints about the decision, admitting: "Jermain Defoe is a fine player - he still looks sharp and he's still scoring goals.

"I think the game's changing anyway - players are looking after themselves for longer, they're staying fitter and there are more support systems.

"(Gray) is still learning and adjusting in the Premier League. I think he'll improve from what we do here and he'll improve from being in the Premier League, so hopefully if he continues to do that his day will come."

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