JASON Shackell says he owes his ever-present status to manager Sean Dyche, and he believes Burnley are going to be even fitter in the Premier League.
The Clarets captain played every minute of every game in Burnley’s promotion season, including League Cup and FA Cup ties.
It is an achievement the central defender has never managed before in more than a decade of professional football and with the Clarets the fifth of his full-time clubs.
And Shackell is not sure it would have been possible but for boss Dyche’s influence on a daily basis.
“One of the gaffer’s mantras is you go hard day in, day out. There are no down days, and it’s worked for me nicely this year. He got us really fit in pre-season and we took that into the year,” said Shackell.
The 30-year-old was the only player to not miss a minute of action in all competitions, but with Burnley using the least number of players in the Championship a number of his team-mates were close behind him.
Goalkeeper Tom Heaton missed just one cup game, through suspension, following his controversial dismissal for two bookings at Brighton in August.
Kieran Trippier was an ever-present up until mid-March, when he suffered a hamstring injury which ruled him out of the squad for over three weeks.
Midfielders David Jones and Scott Arfield played 49 of Burnley’s 51 games, as the Clarets used only 25 players in the league - 15 fewer than QPR, who went up via the play-offs on Saturday after finishing 13 points and two places behind the Clarets in fourth.
And Shackell says that is credit to the hard work done behind the scenes.
“A lot of the lads who have played the majority of the games were in the team at the start of the season and played a lot of games.
“The squad in general have stated very healthy and that’s credit to the physios, sports scientists and the gaffer so it’s been brilliant,” said the skipper, who said his ever-present status capped a memorable year.
“It’s a nice achievement for me in what’s been an absolutely unbelievable year.
“It’s the cherry on the cake.
“It’s been brilliant for me personally, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.”
But he knows Dyche will not allow Burnley to rest on their laurels and expects the levels for endurance to be raised in the top flight next season.
“I know the gaffer and I’m sure we’re going to be even fitter next year,” he said.