Dwight McNeil: Sean Dyche backs Burnley winger for England
Dyche on McNeil: "When I see some of the other young players who are getting called up and are in and around the squad then he can't be far away"
By Dan Sansom
Last Updated: 02/12/19 1:09pm
Burnley manager Sean Dyche says Dwight McNeil "can't be far away" from a senior England call-up and insists the winger deserves the spotlight for his impressive performances.
McNeil broke into the England U21 squad earlier this season and has been one of Burnley's stand-out performers since breaking into their first team last December.
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The 20-year-old has played in every game of the current campaign - scoring once and providing four assists - and Dyche believes he must be close to a senior call-up to the national side.
"When I see some of the other young players who are getting called up and are in and around the squad then he can't be far away in my opinion but I'm bound to say that, I see him every day," Dyche said.
"I've never really questioned the national side of things and certainly not Gareth [Southgate]. I've got a good relationship with Gareth and it's not easy picking the players, but we'll see.
"He's a humble lad and he's going about his business really well at the moment and I just want him to keep enjoying it.
McNeil has attracted plenty of attention over the last 12 months, with Manchester United among a host of clubs reportedly interested in signing him.
United released McNeil from their youth set-up just five years ago and despite being linked with a return to Old Trafford, Dyche says the youngster deserves the spotlight.
"He deserves any respect he's getting, he's a young player enjoying his football," the Burnley boss added. "You want to see that, I certainly want to see it.
"He's learning all the time, he's improving all the time, his mentality's getting stronger and stronger. I think he's a top talent and I've said it all along from even the first few times he played for us.
"The main thing for me is he's enjoying himself. It's not easy - there is stress, there is pressure in the Premier League quite obviously but I just want him to keep playing with a smile."
'Topsy-turvy season similar to 2016'
Burnley are 10th in the Premier League table, level with Manchester United and just a point behind Arsenal after 14 games.
Leicester are currently Liverpool's closest challengers in second, champions Manchester City are already 11 points off top spot and newly-promoted Sheffield United are in seventh place having lost just three times so far.
Asked what he made of the current campaign, Dyche likened it to Leicester's 2015-16 title-winning season.
"A few years ago there was that kind of topsy-turvy feeling to the Premier League early on and we all thought it would readjust and it didn't," he said.
"Leicester went away and won it and fantastically so. They did the job in magnificent fashion but it was a topsy-turvy year.
"There were a few sides not quite there, a few sides not quite operating at the top level that we all know they can so this season has been a bit similar. The big clubs are not quite there so I think it does change the feel of the league."
Burnley face Manchester City in the Premier League on Tuesday, hoping for a positive response to Saturday's 2-0 defeat to Crystal Palace.
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