Wednesday 17 January 2018

Burnley are fearless - Martinez

Everton manager Roberto Martinez welcomes Burnley to Goodison this weekend
Everton manager Roberto Martinez welcomes Burnley to Goodison this weekend

Everton manager Roberto Martinez sees a fearlessness in relegation-threatened Burnley similar to that displayed by his Wigan team in surviving against the odds in the Premier League.

The Clarets head to Goodison Park having beaten Manchester City, drawn against Tottenham and being narrowly defeated by Arsenal in the last month.

They remain two points from safety but Martinez believes the fact they have been scrapping to get out of the bottom three all season - much like his Wigan side in the four seasons he spent with them before joining the Toffees - gives them an advantage over teams who have been dragged into the race for survival.

"You always see similarities," said the Spaniard when asked for comparisons with his experience of the Latics' relegation battles.

"I don't think there is any fear of relegation and that is the biggest difference Burnley have over other teams who are not in the relegation zone who are starting to think they have something to lose.

"Burnley have shown to every team they play on the front foot.

"Physically they do not show they have been involved for nine months in this competition; it is the opposite as they are getting used to the demands of the Premier League and they look a strong team physically.

"When you are in a situation as clear as the one they have now with the points they have, they are only one step away from getting away from the bottom three and that is an incredible incentive."

Romelu Lukaku is set to return after a month out with a hamstring injury.

Leon Osman will be given as much time as possible to overcome a groin problem suffered against Swansea but fellow midfielder Steven Pienaar has suffered no reaction to his first appearance since December.

Left-sided utility man Bryan Oviedo (hamstring) and winger Aiden McGeady (back) have both returned to training this week.

Burnley boss Sean Dyche insists his team will not resort to diving and cheating in their battle against relegation.

Dyche says he has been shocked by the amount of simulation he has witnessed during Burnley's first season back in the Barclays Premier League.

He claims another manager has urged him to "move with the times" and instruct his players to seek out decisions.

But while Dyche accepts his players are naive on such matters, he insists that is the way he likes it and will not be asking them to follow suit, regardless of their situation.

Burnley are second from bottom with just six games remaining but are only two points from a safe position and have earned many plaudits for their battling displays.

Dyche said: "There is a certain way of playing. I believe the team play in the correct manner. There's been minimal, if any, simulation from our players. I see it constantly in this league, more so than I ever thought I would.

"At this level we have been naive at times, in the right way. I think that's sad that players just can't go out and play and get decisions that they should get.

"One prominent manager I am not going to name said to me, 'You are being naive, you should get your players to move with the times'. It's not my belief. You should play the game properly.

"If someone touches you in the box and you go down, that's always been there - that's not cheating, that's just gamesmanship. That's part of the game. There is a difference.

"I'm on about absolute simulation where there is no contact and people go to the floor."

Burnley expect defender Steven Reid (calf) and midfielder Ross Wallace (knee) to be back in contention.

Midfielder Matt Taylor could also feature if there is no reaction to his first appearance in seven months, as a last-minute substitute, against Arsenal last week after an Achilles injury.

Forward Marvin Sordell has overcome a minor knock and the Clarets are at full strength, aside from long-term knee injury victims Dean Marney and Kevin Long.

Press Association

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