SEAN Dyche believes the challenges his side faced last season will stand them in good stead in the future.

On Boxing Day, Burnley were in the Premier League's relegation zone, with just 12 points from 19 matches.

The Clarets put together a strong second half to the season, amassing 28 points, and pulled themselves to safety - eventually finishing 15th.

"We had a strange season last season, it’s fait to say we had a very strong second half of the season, we all know that," said the Burnley manager.

"Jumping back to last pre-season, the many challenges we had and looking at the difference.

"There’s an obvious difference, the players have come back clear minded and slightly more powerful edge to their fitness.

"Not that they weren’t fit last year, but they’ve got a bit more of a hungry edge to them, they were really sharp as individuals.

"I was really pleased with the fitness levels when they came back, the skin fold levels were very low – probably the lowest they’ve ever been while I’ve been here.

"The work they’ve done in pre-season, it’s early yet obviously but it’s nice to see that work at least get you off to a good start with a nice win. We’ve got some tough games coming up, but they’re all tough in the Premier League."

Dyche was pleased with the way his players performed in the 3-0 win over Southampton.

"I think the main thing as a manager and the coaching is seeing the players fit and well and performing," he said.

"I said before the game that I don’t think it’s a pre-requisite because sometimes pre-season can be misleading.

"I think every manager and coach would like to see the players in good fitness and form, that edge to their performances.

"Their eyes were alive, we’ve seen all of that. It was very pleasing."

The Clarets boss didn't need to talk to his group of players last season about their lack of results, he commented on how the squad are intelligent enough to recognise things needed to change.

"The good thing is with the way the group work, I don’t need to remind them.

"Last year they knew, it was a reminder of how tight it is in the Premier League. In those tight games you have to work together to turn them in your favour and if you’re not performing then you get hurt.

"The early part of last season was a big reminder of that. The balance and the power of the group to turn that around and do what we did in the second half of the season, the adjustment form them without me saying anything.

"We’ve got a bright enough group to realise and learn from that, it doesn’t guarantee the next season by any means, and what we’re doing now.

"It gives you a better chance – you’re clear minded, you’re fit and well, the team wants to work."