Burnley's boys on England's radar
Clarets boss Dyche tells TNP that Southgate is taking some of his players seriously ahead of World Cup
For the first time since 1962, Burnley are set to play a part in England's World Cup squad.
Their previous contribution was limited to just two players but, this year, it could be more than double that figure, both directly and indirectly, by the time Gareth Southgate announces his final 23-man squad for Russia.
The England manager was at Turf Moor for a second consecutive Saturday to assess English players when Burnley beat Everton 2-1 two days ago.
From Turf Moor alone, goakeeper Nick Pope, defender James Tarkowski and midfielder Jack Cork are under Southgate's consideration, while captain Ben Mee remains hopeful of an outside chance of making the plane to Russia.
Elsewhere, two near-certainties for the Finals also have Burnley manager Sean Dyche to thank for their rise to prominence - Tottenham's Kieran Trippier and Everton defender Michael Keane.
Dyche told The New Paper in an exclusive interview: "I know Gareth well, get on well with him and have a lot of respect for him. It's fair to say that he likes some of our players.
"But there's a difference between liking players and taking them through the system and into the national side, especially to big tournaments.
"All the players can do is keep working hard, keep enjoying the challenge of being at Burnley because, when they do that, when they perform, they will get recognised.
"I'm open-minded on the players' behalf but I'm certainly in the loop with Gareth to know that he does take some of our players seriously. I think that's credit to them as individuals and credit to us as a club."
That Burnley are contributing to the England squad is a testament to the work Dyche, 46, has done since taking over the club in 2012, when they were a mid-table side in the Championship.
After Saturday's win over Everton, the Clarets have consolidated their seventh spot in the English Premier League, with only the super six above them.
Added Dyche: "Certainly, when I got here five-odd years ago, I don't think many people were thinking we were a club full of internationals of any description, let alone England internationals.
"To play our part and for our players to play theirs in that would be fantastic if it comes. We'll have to see what the next few months brings."
Dyche's cautious optimism reflects the diligence which has ensured that Burnley's third spell back in the EPL did not go down as another one-season wonder.
Few expected the Clarets to garner anything from their first five away games against Chelsea (won 3-2), Tottenham (drew 1-1), Liverpool (drew 1-1), Everton (won 1-0) and Manchester City (lost 3-0), yet they took eight points from a potential 12.
Dyche's side also managed to leave Old Trafford with a 2-2 draw on Boxing Day and held Manchester City to a 1-1 stalemate when the champions-elect made the short trip north last month.
"There was a number of people at the beginning of the season that said we've got no chance but that's kind of a yearly event for us at Burnley; we're kind of used to that," said Dyche.
"My players are willing to work hard, play hard, they play a good shape and manage to do all the basics of the game really well and have moments of quality, when we can, to win games."
Off the field, the club are also progressing, with the parachute payments from their 2015 relegation from the EPL reinvested.
Around £10.6 million (S$19.5m) was spent on transforming their Barnfield training base into a state-of-the-art facility.
Dyche recently extended his contract which will take his six-year journey with the club to a full decade by the time the new deal expires in summer 2022.
His ability to weather the storm to bring the Clarets up a second time sets him apart from his predecessor Owen Coyle, who left after barely half a season into the 2009/10 EPL campaign to join Bolton Wanderers.
"The main thing from my point of view is that, on an ongoing basis, I feel I've got the support here," he admits.
"In management terms, I certainly don't think I've got every answer, so I'm learning and improving all the time. I think I'm at a club that allows me to do that.
"They know this is not a faultless business. They know there's going to be times when myself and the team and sometimes the club even, get things wrong.
"But they're willing to go through those kind of stages to continue improving...
"My personal decision to remain here was about that continued development of myself but also as a club, I think we're in a really healthy place that has a clear-minded and reality-minded view of what the club is and what it wants to achieve."