TEENAGER Dwight McNeil is in the first team picture at Burnley 'on merit', according to Sean Dyche.

The 18-year-old made his first start for the club in the Europa League play-off round second leg tie with Olympiakos on Thursday night and turned in a fine performance.

McNeil made way after 75 minutes to a standing ovation from Turf Moor and Dyche was delighted with the winger's performance.

The Burnley boss also praised the character of his young starlet, who gave the ball away early on and allowed Olympiakos to counter, with Daniel Podence wasting a good chance.

He shrugged that off to play a staring role on the night and Dyche was impressed.

“I think the players support each other. They’ve seen the quality he’s got in training, and we’ve got a group who care for each other as a team," Dyche said.

"They got around him quickly, Jeff (Hendrick) gave him a high five and said to keep playing, be steady, and he did.

"But these are all the learning curves young players have, brilliant for him.

"He did great against Aberdeen, and again tonight, and each time that experience level goes up.

“That little bit of belief gets added, and we hope he grows more belief from tonight.

“It’s early days, but we do like what he’s doing. And he’s there on merit.

“Opportunity came his way with Johann (Berg Gudmundsson) going down, and he’s taken a real step forward.”

McNeil made his first senior appearance on the final day of last season, coming on as a final minute substitute against Bournemouth.

He then played extra-time against Aberdeen at Turf Moor and Dyche has been looking for an opportunity to get him more involved.

“He’s been around us for a while, end of last season, beginning of this," he said.

“I wanted to get him involved more really, but it was about finding the right opportunity.

“For a young player, we’ve done well to leave him alone because you can get involved and over coach.

“The message tonight was work hard and enjoy yourself, simple as that. And I thought he did.

“It's a massive achievement for him to play in a tie like that, I'm pleased and proud for him and his family as well.

“A lot of hard work to be done, he knows that, he’s been with the first team, he knows what’s required, but he’s got some quality, and he showed real strength of character to go out there and give such a good performance.”