SEAN Dyche paid tribute to captain Jason Shackell for playing every minute of each of Burnley’s 51 games in their promotion season, describing the achievement as “Amazing.”
The defender played his part in 21 clean sheets in all competitions – 19 in the Championship – and contributed two goals, including a second in successive seasons at Ewood Park, paving the way for Burnley to end 35 years of derby hurt with a 2-1 win.
Despite securing automatic promotion at home to Wigan two weeks ago, lifting the trophy following last Saturday’s win over Ipswich in the final game at Turf Moor this season, Shackell kept going right to the end at Reading to preserve Burnley's proud away record.
The skipper made an important late goalline clearance to deny Pavel Pogrebnyak and make it 12 games unbeaten on the road this calendar year.
Shackell had also made a first-minute block from the Russian striker as the Royals started brightly in their ultimately failed bid to secure the last play-off place.
And Dyche said they had the centre half to thank, not just for his efforts at the Madejski Stadium but throughout his ever-present season.
“You add in the fine performance he has given for himself and the team, he's been first class,” said the Burnley boss.
“I’ve enjoyed working with him, among the whole squad. But as captain he definitely deserves credit because playing every minute of a season is a fantastic achievement, as I suggest, and playing it in the manner that he has is absolutely top drawer.”
Shackell has been instrumental in Burnley boasting the best defence in the Championship in a season in which they lost only five of their 46 league games.
“That's all credit to the team. The reason why I say ‘team’ is because we defend from the front, everyone knows that,” said Dyche, who added it was no fluke that Shackell had gone the distance, with fellow defenders Michael Duff and Kieran Trippier and midfielder Scott Arfield not far behind him, while goalkeeper Tom Heaton missed only one game through suspension.
"It's terrific the work we do behind the scenes - the physiotherapy, the sports science side and the care and attention we put into the layers has paid off," he added.
"I hear a lot 'they've been lucky with injuries', no-one ever says 'they've planned it, they've done very well with the sports science side, the analysis side, the dietary requirements'.
"They're all the things we have to put into the players.
"You could argue we've been unlucky with Vokesy doing his cruciate and Ingsy missing a month. You could argue either way.
"I'm proud of the staff as well, they've done a fantastic job."