BURNLEY boss Sean Dyche believes Dwight McNeil's rise to the first team can be the catalyst for more Clarets youngsters to break through into the senior squad.

McNeil has started the last two Premier League matches, scoring against West Ham and impressing again the midweek win over Huddersfield Town.

The 19-year-old is expected to keep his place for tomorrow's FA Cup third round clash with Barnsley and Dyche has been delighted with the teenager, who has made six appearances for the Clarets in all competitions this term.

“The key thing is it’s the deserved pathway," said the Clarets chief of the winger. "It’s not like we put him in for the sake of it, it’s because we think he can deliver performances, which he has done. I think we’ve timed our run well with that.

“It’s not just dropping somebody in, taking them out and you never see them again, it’s been building up slowly but surely.

“That’s an important thing for the academy to realise, it’s not just dropping them in and taking them out, you have to keep putting the building blocks in to get to where he’s got to and we want him to continue.

“He's still got a lot more to come but he’s going about it nicely."

And Dyche hopes there will be more U23 graduates to follow in McNeil's footsteps.

Young full back Ali Koikoi was on the bench for the defeat at Arsenal before Christmas while midfielder Josh Benson also travelled with the first team to the Emirates.

“There are quite a few who’ve stepped up and trained with us when we need numbers," said Dyche.

"That’s the good side of our challenge, with the numbers and injuries, these boys have come up with us a lot.

“We’ve had a number from the Under-23 group, and a couple of the younger ones.

"That’s when they get that taste of what it’s really like and it gives them that feel of being around it.

“Josh came to Arsenal, he’s been in a couple of squads. There’s life in that group, year on year we’re slowly but surely getting that group to be stronger."

Burnley face third tier Barnsley in the FA Cup this weekend and Dyche hinted that a couple of the club's promising youngsters could make the bench for the tie.

"I don’t think starting, but maybe we’ll sneak a few around it," he added.

"We’ve got to find that fine balance between being competitive - we want to win the game - and keeping some of the senior pros sharp as well.

“I absolutely respect the FA Cup, but it’s not the main challenge, the Premier League is the main challenge, so there’s got to be that balance. But we still want to put out a team that can win and I believe we can win with the team we do put out."