The step up
Second meets first in the Championship this weekend as Burnley prepare to host title rivals Leicester City on Saturday lunchtime, live on Sky Sports 1HD. We look at who might be the better suited to surviving and succeeding in the Premier League next season...
By Peter Fraser - Follow me on Twitter @SkySportsPeteF
Last Updated: 28/03/14 4:58pm
Sean Dyche is only in his second job as a manager, having a background in youth coaching and development, and has never been a Premier League boss. Given that the 42-year-old only started in management in 2011 at Watford and that he never even sampled the top flight as a player, the step up could be a real baptism of fire.
Nigel Pearson knows about the Premier League after several years as an assistant boss at a variety of top-flight clubs and that insight would prove vital should Leicester be promoted. The 50-year-old also played in the Premier League in his career to mean he has a clear advantage over Dyche.
The Turf Moor club boast the joint-best backline in this season's Championship along with Brighton & Hove Albion having conceded 31 times. That is quite a turnaround from the shaky defence before Dyche's arrival. Right-back Kieran Trippier has been a star performer and has been linked with Arsenal, Newcastle United and Stoke City to give an indication of his potential to make the step up. A solid defence is a necessity for any newly-promoted club and Burnley would have an ideal building block.
Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, a surname synonymous with the Premier League, has kept 13 clean sheets in the 2013/14 Championship - along with scoring against Yeovil - and Leicester have conceded just four more goals than Burnley. But while captain Wes Morgan and, particularly, Paul Konchesky boast plenty of experience, England Under 21 international Liam Moore is the only defensive regular who is the right side of 30 years old. This would be a concern in the pace of the Premier League.
Scott Arfield's six goals from the attacking midfield post in Dyche's formation have been an important part of this season's success story while last summer's free signing of David Jones from Wigan Athletic has proven to be an inspired piece of business. But whether a midfield short on star names could make the leap to competing with some of the best in the world in the Premier League is another matter.
Daniel Drinkwater pulling the strings in the midfield has been a hallmark of the campaign. At just 24, he appears to have the potential to be a success in the Premier League and his form in the current campaign earned him a nomination for the Championship Player of the Year award. Winger Lloyd Dyer and former Manchester United man Matt James also work well in Leicester's system but keeping hold of Drinkwater this summer would be essential to any hopes in the top flight.
Danny Ings and Sam Vokes are of course the reason why Burnley have been the only team capable of keeping pace with Leicester at the top of the Championship. The pair have scored a remarkable 40 goals between them, 20 each, in the league this season. The rest of Burnley's squad have only contributed 24 league goals between them and so they are dependent on Ings and Vokes. If the pair were also to click in the Premier League, they would not only keep Burnley up but also fire them towards a comfortable season.
Leicester are the top scoring club in the Championship with 70 goals. Veteran striker David Nugent has scored 17 times while strike partner Jamie Vardy has netted on 14 occasions. The duo are at an age in their late twenties where they should be hitting their peak and one-cap England international Nugent would have a point to prove in the Premier League after not quite meeting expectations in his previous time in the top flight.
A few of Leicester's players might not have age on their side but their far greater experience from their manager to throughout their squad - combined with the presence of young stars, such as Drinkwater and Moore - mean they would have plenty of potential in the Premier League.
Burnley would need to avoid losing Ings and Vokes in the summer transfer window and then hope the pair could apply their sensational goalscoring exploits to the much more difficult platform of the Premier League. If not, and with the inexperienced Dyche as boss, they could be in trouble.