DANNY Lafferty has got what it takes to be a first-team fixture, according to Burnley boss Sean Dyche.
The left back was only brought back into the side following injury to Ben Mee in early December, having previously fallen down the pecking order with the arrival of Joseph Mills on a season-long loan from Reading in the summer.
But, 12 months after signing from League of Ireland side Derry City, Dyche said Lafferty is staking a strong claim for the left back berth.
“I think it’s fair to say he’s performed well,” said the Burnley boss.
“He’s still learning. He’s had a couple of ups and downs and periods in games when he’s gone quiet, but generally he’s performed well.
“He’s served us well and served himself and the team well really in Ben’s absence.
“Ben’s going to be looking at that now, but that’s healthy for the squad.
“I think there are a few good stories at the minute, which are slowly but surely opening up as the season goes on.”
Lafferty was hampered by the after-effects of a hamstring injury he suffered before signing for the Clarets when he first arrived last January.
He made his debut at Cardiff City in March and played only a further four times, but did enough to catch the eye of the Northern Ireland selectors and made his debut in the summer against Holland.
Mills was picked to start the season under Eddie Howe, with Mee consigned to the bench and Lafferty out of the squad altogether bar the Capital One Cup second and third round games.
He has been given a chance by Dyche, and he has taken it.
“The good thing with fresh eyes is that it gives everyone a fresh chance in the group. We felt that he was one we wanted to have a look at,” said the Burnley boss, for whom the 24-year-old was a largely unknown quantity when he took charge in October.
“We were quite fresh to him, in a sense. The good side of that is you see what you see and you get on with it.
“Coming out of the League of Ireland and it’s all new to you and fresh to you - the professionalism, the pace of it, power of it, and he’s still adapting to it.
“But he’s showing a good flexibility to it, mentally and physically, which is important.”