SEAN Dyche said he could not be too hard on his players after ending their Premier League campaign with a 1-0 defeat at relegated Sheffield United.

It was a third straight defeat for the Clarets and a third game without Nick Pope in goal who now may miss the European Championships as he needs an operation on his knee.

David McGoldrick scored the only goal of the game - a fine first half strike - to condemn Burnley to a 19th defeat as they finished in 17th place.

Dyche admitted Burnley have 'petered out' since beating Fulham on May 10 but said the loss of key personnel - including captain Ben Mee at Bramhall Lane - has been crucial this term.

“We have petered out after the Fulham game and we have missed two key players again today in Popey and Ben Mee," said Dyche.

"It’s been the story of our season, but when we have had all our players fit we have looked a very good side.

“But I can’t be too hard on the players as they have put in a lot of effort and given everything and we have just lacked a bit of edge recently.

“These players give a lot to the cause and the side has been very stretched for much of the season as we have had so many injuries with such a small squad. But we still have 39 points which is not to be scoffed at in the Premier League.”

McGoldrick, voted the club’s player of the year, scored his eighth Premier League goal of the campaign midway through the first half as the Blades won for just the seventh time in the league this season.

Three of those victories came in the nine matches under the stewardship of interim boss Paul Heckingbottom, who is likely to now return to his role with the under-23 squad.

The relegated Blades, who finished bottom of the table, have known their fate for some time and will now look to appoint a permanent successor to Chris Wilder, who left in March after just over four and a half years in charge.

Heckingbottom used his pre-match press conference in the build-up to the game to call for clarity regarding the new manager and urged the board to make an announcement shortly after Sunday’s final match of the season.

The match was the first played at Bramall Lane in front of supporters since March 7 last year, when the Blades beat Norwich 1-0 to continue their challenge for a place in Europe.

McGoldrick netted his ninth goal of the season with a fine curling finish from 25 yards out which found the bottom corner of the net following a driving run after receiving the ball midway inside the Burnley half.

Will Norris should probably have done better and you could not help but feel that if Pope was in the Burnley goal then he would have saved the shot.

The 29-year-old , who will have an operation this week, will be assessed to see if he will make England’s squad for the tournament, which is named tomorrow.

Burnley offered little in reply and Chris Basham came close to a second goal when he thumped a fierce shot against a post following a corner.

Burnley’s best chance of an equaliser came with 11 minutes remaining but nobody in a Clarets shirt could turn the ball home following a big goalmouth scramble.

The hosts survived some late pressure, with Jack Robinson having to clear off the line after Chris Wood tried to poke it home.

But the Blades held on comfortably in the end for a rare but deserved victory.