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Clarets star Treacy ready to put football first
KEITH Treacy has thanked manager Sean Dyche for believing in him enough to help get his career, and life, back on track. He is ready to repay him with performances and goals.
And the winger got off to a fine start at Turf Moor on Saturday, coming off the bench to inspire a 2-0 win over Championship newcomers Yeovil.
Much has been made of the Irishman's football past, his inability to establish himself with one team – perhaps with the exception of Preston – for any length of time. As such there have been question marks about his future in the game.
He was loaned out to Sheffield Wednesday last season after falling out of favour with former boss Eddie Howe.
Dyche brought him in from the cold, but after scoring against the Owls in a New Year's Day win the wide man again drifted away from the first-team scene.
In the summer there was talk of the Clarets paying up his contract.
But Dyche kept the faith, Treacy knuckled down and now insists he is ready to prove his doubters wrong after putting his demons to bed.
The 24-year-old reported back for pre-season overweight after the holidays. It wasn't the first time in his Burnley career that he had been considered out of shape, but he is determined it will be the last.
He credits new fitness coach Mark Howard – who he first worked with at Blackburn Rovers – for his weight loss and improved physique, and rediscovering his form through Dyche’s dedication.
After scoring the first, somewhat fortuitously, and affecting the second goal to stretch Burnley's unbeaten start with a first home league win, he laid bare the off-field problems that have impacted on his football career.
They include an ongoing legal battle for access to his young daughter, something which he explained the Clarets boss encouraged him to pursue.
“I used to run away from these sort of things. Now I am facing them head on and come out the other side a better person,” said Treacy, who confessed he hadn’t always helped himself when it came to his career.
“I'm talking about a lot of things, not just socialising, like flying back to Dublin to see my family.
“I don't mean sitting in pubs for all hours but to genuinely see my family.
“I've been going up and down the country to see my daughter.
“She lives in Chorley but she's away at the minute so I’ve not seen her for a couple of weeks, which is tough.
“But sometimes you've got to put your career first, no matter how hard it is.”
It's that kind of responsibility that has contributed to Treacy's reformed character.
“I am in the last year of my contract at Burnley now and I have a four-year-old daughter I need to support. My girlfriend’s got two little girls, not that I'’m supporting them solely but it is nice to have security for my family back in Dublin and my daughter,” he explained.
“It's more than just me, and I'm a bit too stupid to do any other job. I've to knuckle down and get on with my football.
“I'm 24 and it’s taken that long for the penny to drop, but at least it’s dropped and hopefully I can just keep my head down now and keep going.
“I just want to keep working hard in the week in training and express myself at the weekends.”
But he admitted his task would be tougher without Dyche’s backing.
“The manager has been extremely understanding with the circumstances in my life. If I needed to go back to Dublin, he believed me. He believed in the things I said,” Treacy added.
“When I went to him with things he never thought I was up to something and he never questioned me. He always believed in me, and he never questioned my ability. It was purely about my fitness and my demons off the pitch.
“But he's pushed me to get to the courts and he's pushed me to do things. Off the pitch he has made me a better person and things are starting to show on the pitch.”
Off the bench, Treacy delivered a star turn.
Allied by the equally impressive Scott Arfield, the duo replaced Ross Wallace and Junior Stanislas to launch an attack on a tiring Yeovil Town.
The Glovers had dealt with a pre-match glove crisis admirably. Injury to Marek Stech, and then to his lined up loan replacement Wayne Hennessey in midweek led to Gary Johnson bringing in young Manchester United goalkeeper Sam Johnstone in the nick of time.
But Yeovil pressed hard against the ball to protect the rookie and stifle Burnley's attacking assets.
Dyche's men tried to capitalise on the counter in a cagey first half, but Sam Vokes curled wide of the angle after Dean Marney sent him clear with a well-weighted long pass.
The two had combined earlier, resulting in a Vokes' volley dipping over the bar from 20 yards.
James Hayter was similarly off target after a gift from Stanislas.
There was an even bigger let-off after Kevin Dawson tricked his way into the box and tried to nudge a shot past Tom Heaton. The keeper did well to palm it out, but only into the path of Liam Davis, who looked certain to score but somehow ballooned over an open goal from two yards.
Vokes suffered similar frustrations at the opposite end in first-half stoppage time as he met Kieran Trippier's delightful cross with a powerful header, but couldn't keep it down.
Burnley were too sloppy at times in possession to make any territory count, and struggled for a foothold in the second half too.
Stanislas looked to be caught in two minds about whether to cross for Vokes or Ings in the box, or go for goal himself after Vokes' lay-off. In the end he curled wide.
The winger then picked up a stray pass inside the Yeovil half, exchanged short passes with Ings but saw a low shot bobble wide from edge of box.
Cue Treacy and Arfield's introduction to seize the initiative when Yeovil were worn down.
Johnstone switched off, Treacy switched on, and when his left wing cross caught in a swirling wind it sneaked in at the near post.
Arfield went close to a quickfire second after a one-two with Ings.
But a second goal in five minutes was celebrated by Vokes after Arfield's initial shot cannoned off his back to wrong-foot the hapless Johnstone.
Treacy had been involved in the build-up, winning the free kick following Davis' foul on the right.
David Jones - a dynamo in midfield - whipped in the delivery, Ings headed against the post, Arfield fired back the rebound and Vokes unwittingly added the definitive touch.
Johnstone saved well from another Jones free kick that looked destined for the top right corner, and Luke Ayling cleared off the line to deny Vokes a second.
Treacy was again involved, with a clever cutback.
His Irish eyes were smiling.
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