SEAN Dyche admits thoughts of European football weren't on his mind at the start of this season - but he sensed his side had improvement in them.

Having stayed up on 40 points last season with a 16th place finish, the Clarets have kicked on this season and they are now nine points better off with six games to go.

The win at Watford - Burnley's fourth in a row - moved Dyche's side six points clear of Leicester City, their nearest challengers for a seventh place finish.

Victory over the Foxes at Turf Moor this weekend would move the Clarets to the brink of securing a top-seven finish, which will seal Europa League football next season as long as Southampton don't win the FA Cup.

Asked if he envisaged that last summer, Dyche said: "No. The big thing for me, can you improve on last season. I thought we could, with the style we play we could still be effective, and I'm pleased we have been.

"But sometimes it's not about you, you might be doing well, but others out there are doing better.

"But I looked at them in pre-season and thought we were stronger, and we can move forward.

"I think the style, the mentality keeps improving, signings...trying to just lift that a little bit and add more quality, and I think that's been on show."

Despite their commanding lead over Leicester Dyche insists it wouldn't now be classed as a disappointment for the fans if Burnley fail to finish the season in the top seven.

"We've given them more than what they wanted, don't worry about that, they wanted Premier League football. Anything beyond that is just a bonus on top of a bonus," he said.

"There's a good reality, I think, to the club, and I think the fans have bought into the honesty, from what we show them.

"They know we're not the real deal, but they do enjoy it when we are delivering performances like we are, and then if they're not, they accept the fact we are what we are, we're still improving, still looking to learn.

"I think they've bought into that. It's a pleasing mentality, in an industry that wants everything in a week.

"There's been a good amount of patience, I think, from our fans, both home and away.

"We're not the real deal, but we are improving, and that was a big thing for me. Season on season, can you improve? Can you get better as individuals, collectively? Can I and my staff get better?

"We work on that, we talk about that a lot, there's real clear signs of that."