SEAN Dyche has urged Burnley to toughen up when they take on rivals Blackburn Rovers.
The Clarets boss felt his side were a soft touch in Tuesday night’s trans-Pennine clash with Barnsley at Oakwell, which ended in a 1-1 draw.
He has warned they will need to be made of more resilient stuff if they are to end a long standing winless run against their neighbours this weekend.
But as Burnley bid to make it a hat-trick of derby successes, having already beaten Bolton and Blackpool at Turf Moor this season, Dyche believes they will be ready for the big one on Sunday.
“It’s a big game and an important game for the club in general,” he said. “You want players to experience big-game atmospheres.
“I’m looking forward to it.”
But although the Burnley boss is pleased to go into the game with four points from two away games, he admitted he is looking for improvements on their Oakwell display in midweek.
“I was pleased with the outcome more than the performance,” said Dyche.
“We demand a lot from the players and they’ve given a lot. Now and again you have to be realistic and think you might have a soft half or a soft performance.
“Within that the major positive was to come away with a point after not playing particularly well.
“I wasn’t pleased with the performance, particularly in the first half, apart from the goal which was a well-worked set piece,” added the Burnley boss, after Charlie Austin’s early header was cancelled out by Marcus Tudgay.
“We like to think at set pieces we can threaten. It was a very good delivery and a very good header.
“I totally expected us to get the ball and use it wisely.
“You can't control a whole game but you'd have your share and it just didn’t happen like that for the first half.
“There were a lot of positives about the outcome of the game but the performance was not something I enjoyed.
“The second half got better – not what we have been performing like but overall it was a good point at what is a tough place to come.”
He added: “It’s quite obvious we're becoming a harder unit to beat and that’s important in a Championship season.
“I've mentioned many times the important ones are the knife-edge balanced games, who is going to take the performance and who is going to take the points.
“We did it at Hull on Saturday and we got a point on Tuesday in a game which wasn’t a great performance, so that’s a positive in itself.”
Austin’s return to goalscoring form was a particular highlight ahead of Sunday’s East Lancashire derby.
The striker took his tally for the season to 21, ending a three-game run without a goal.
“How nice is it that you can call three games a drought,” smiled Dyche.
“He keeps getting in there. He’s got that knack and that desire to keep going in there.
“If you go in there enough – sort of the second six-yard box – I keep telling all the players, you’re going to score goals no matter who you are.
“Certainly people like him.”
Asked if it was a timely goal, with the visit of rivals Rovers on the horizon, Dyche added: “Possibly. A lot of things get thrown at us. Beforehand everyone couldn’t wait to tell me that our record (at Barnsley) isn’t good.
“We know he’s a threat and potent in the goal area, and it’s a great weapon to have.
“That (the goal) is a starting point.
“Is it relevant, who knows? We’ll have to wait and see on Sunday.”