SEAN Dyche raised a wry smile yesterday when he was asked whether Manchester City were over the hill and far away when it came to the Premier League title race - leaving the Clarets to battle it out with the rest for the second.

Burnley's stunning start to the season has certainly got tongues wagging outside of this part of East Lancashire and Dyche's press conference before the trip to Brighton this weekend was the busiest it has been in a long, long time.

The Clarets, perhaps with the exception of record-breaking City, are the story in the Premier League at the moment.

But the Turf Moor chief won't be making any grand statements about his side. The question over the title had been asked in jest, and Dyche had already played down suggestions of European football coming to Burnley next season.

After 17 games of the season the Clarets sit sixth in the table, level on points with Liverpool and Tottenham directly above them.

The first target for Dyche is simple though: Improve on what they did last season.

Burnley's remarkable start to the campaign has seen them accumulate 31 points so far, just nine shy of last year's total when they finished 16th.

But Dyche is continuing to steer clear of any bold claims about what might be achievable this term, instead preferring to focus on the target of yearly progression.

"The first target is to try and achieve something better than last year in terms of the team developing, that's the main judgement," Dyche said ahead of the trip to the south coast.

"I think we're finding it a good mixture of both. The players are reality bound, we know it's an ongoing challenge It is to be enjoyed.

"The main thing was to progress. The first marker is can you beat last year's total. Historically that gives you every chance but also it shows signs of improving. It's important to me. Year on year progress is good signs."

Leicester City's title success in 2015/16 has helped fans of every club dream away now and the Turf Moor faithful are certainly harbouring hopes of seeing some continental action next season.

But Dyche believes there remains a 'realism' both inside the club and from the fan base, pointing to the financial struggles when he first arrived and the enforced sale of Charlie Austin in his first summer.

And although Dyche's men are flying at the moment he insists they won't be 'swaggering' into the Amex Stadium come 3pm on Saturday.

"I don't know about swagger but I think there's more assuredness," he said. "We have a healthy respect for the opposition but that goes out of the window when the whistle goes.

"I don't think we're swaggering into places. That's for people at top end who've been in it for longer.

"There's a more at ease mentality, you go into these stadiums with a bit more about you. It's growing but needs to be looked after. Football can be a fragile business."