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Burnley boss Sean Dyche expects striker Andre Gray to keep getting better


Andre Gray, left, scored Burnley's first Premier League hat-trick

Andre Gray, left, scored Burnley's first Premier League hat-trick

Andre Gray, left, scored Burnley's first Premier League hat-trick

Andre Gray scored his first Premier League hat-trick as Burnley blitzed Sunderland 4-1 and Clarets boss Sean Dyche expects his 25-year-old striker to get even better in 2017.

The Clarets equalled their joint-biggest Premier League victory with a demolition of the Black Cats, whose woeful defending was typified by Papy Djilobodji's dire afternoon, as Gray scored three times inside an hour.

A seventh home victory of the season was rounded off by Ashley Barnes' penalty as Burnley moved up to 11th, nine points clear of the 18th-placed Black Cats, who claimed a consolation through Jermain Defoe.

The win came five days after Gray's late winner against Middlesbrough and the Clarets forward, who missed four games earlier in the year due to a Football Association ban for historical homophobic tweets, maintained his excellent form.

Last year's Championship Player of the Year helped the Clarets win promotion and with Gray now seemingly having found his feet at the top level of English football, Dyche believes there is more to come from the former non-league striker.

"He's still a work in progress and he can only add to his confidence level and belief playing at this level," he said.

"I don't think any player just arrives in the Premier League and you just roll out there and learn instantly, some but not many. It takes time.

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"I've said about people like Steven Defour still adapting to what the Premier League offers and Andre's the same - he's had an unbelievable journey in the last four seasons and he'll continue to learn. All of our players are.

"He's got that fearless streak in him if he misses. It's like, 'so what? Give me another chance and I'll try and put it away for you'. He's got a real firm mentality."

He also had a helping hand from Djilobodji, who was sucked into an aerial duel with team-mate John O'Shea for Gray's first before losing him for the second and third.

An early injury to Lamine Kone, which forced O'Shea in alongside Djilobodji hindered matters, but Black Cats boss David Moyes fumed after his team were undone time and again with routine attacks straight down their throat.

"We couldn't really cope with old-fashioned English style balls down the channel, balls forward, balls over the top," the Scot said.

"We didn't deal with it well. We didn't given ourselves a chance defensively at all. We didn't cope with anything well at all."

With Victor Anichebe also picking up a hamstring injury, Sunderland enter a new year with little reason for optimism given Moyes has already outlined he will be operating with limited funds.

"We have always said if we could do we would, but everyone knows we have got restraints," he added of possible incomings.

"I think with what we have got, of course we need help. So let's hope maybe something happens and we can do that.

"Ellis (Short, Sunderland's owner) is saying let's see what's out there, and maybe we can do something."

Dyche will see little reason to spend greatly himself given Burnley's league position at the halfway point.

And at the end of 2016, when the Clarets won 14 of their 22 games at Turf Moor and lost just three, Dyche reflected on a memorable 12 months.

"It's certainly a very strong way to finish off a very important calendar year," he said.

"We got promoted last year and were almost instantly written off. I think it's a strong mentality to keep looking beyond that and saying what are we about, what can we focus on and what can we deliver in order to win games.

"There's a nice humility about us because we know that we're not the real deal, we know that we're not just going to run through the Premier League and run over everyone but there's an inner belief."

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