BURNLEY boss Sean Dyche has warned his players not to take their first team place for granted.
Competition for places is set to be at its strongest yet when the Clarets travel to take on Millwall this weekend, with Chris McCann and Martin Paterson both expected to be available following injury.
Midfielder Brian Stock comes back into contention also after missing Saturday’s 1-0 win over Crystal Palace through a one-match ban.
Although Ben Mee’s recovery from knee ligament damage is expected to take a little longer, top scorer Charlie Austin could be in line for a comeback at the New Den, having missed the best part of three games with a hamstring strain.
But with their recent replacements, including David Edgar, Daniel Lafferty, Sam Vokes and Saturday’s match-winner Junior Stanislas contributing to Burnley boasting a 100 per cent start to 2013 from two Championship games, Dyche is relishing a selection headache.
“The squad is important,” said the Clarets boss.
“It’s not just the strength, it’s about the mental strength to go and deliver because when you’ve got that shirt you want to stay in the team.
“They’re certainly putting up a case for staying in the team and it’s brilliant for me as a manager to have so many motivated people to want to play.”
And Dyche insists that can only bode well for their Championship prospects.
“I’ve mentioned many times I think we’ve been a little bit hard done by with some things that have gone against us that have been out of our hands.
“When we’re applying ourselves like we did on Saturday and none of that gets in the way then I think we are a decent side,” he said.
“We’re certainly a side to be reckoned with and we’re certainly a side that look like we’ll challenge anyone in the division too, on any 90 minutes.
“The next challenge for us is to find that consistency, keep getting those wins on the board and see where that takes us.
“There are 19 games to go, it’s more about what we do on a weekly basis.
“That’s what I put into the team anyway.
“You can limit people if you put certain targets on things so if you stay open minded who knows what it brings?”
As far as January is concerned, the strength of in-house competition is such that Dyche is not under any urgency to delve into the transfer market.
“There’s a financial reality at the club and we have to look at that as well and monitor that,” he said.
“It doesn’t mean we can’t do anything, it means we’ve probably got to be shopping in a different market.
“It’s more about looking at the bigger picture of the club.
“But the way the players are going about it you’d certainly want to look at your own first because people keep coming in and out of the side for whatever reason, but they’ve been delivering, so we look at what we’ve got first and then worry about what we haven’t later.”