CLARETS boss Owen Coyle believes midfield maestro Chris McCann will graduate to the Premier League sooner rather than later.

McCann was instrumental in Burnley’s Carling Cup win over Fulham on Tuesday night after putting on a superb showing against top-flight opposition.

The Republic of Ireland Under-21 star, a graduate of the Clarets’ youth system after the club spotted him playing for League of Ireland side Home Farm, has come on leaps and bounds since making his debut under Steve Cotterill in August 2005 and FROM BACK PAGE scored his first league goal against Ipswich Town a month later.

But as the Clarets prepare for a Lancashire derby against Preston on Saturday, Coyle tipped the 21-year-old Dubliner to be mixing it with the big guns on a regular basis in the future.

He said: “Chris McCann, I thought, was outstanding and I really believe that kid is good enough to play in the Premier League now.

“He’s just to keep showing it week in, week out. He had three or four goal-scoring opportunities on Tuesday night against some very good players and he’s only 20 years of age.

“Chris is a level-headed kid and he’s got aspirations of trying to be the best player he can be. And with that mind-set he’s always listens to advice and he’s always trying to improve.

“How much he develops is down to Chris but he’s showing a level of consistency and a maturity in his play and I honestly believe he can play at the top level.”

With emphasis very much on youth in the Clarets side these days, Coyle believes that having so many young players in the squad is them to develop more quickly.

He added: “Chris is very content in the group and he recognises he has good players around him.

“But I think the fact we have players like Chris Eagles, Martin Paterson, Jay Rodriguez, Kevin McDonald and Alex McDonald etc it’s good for the younger players to have players of the similar age to relate to.”