In light of a recent article on SoccerSouls, in which the writer gave his thoughts on what was a dream 11 and a realistic 11, I have decided to take a look at what I think should be the Clarets starting 11 on the opening day of next season.
On 36 points, Burnley’s top flight status is almost secure for another season, so this starting 11 would be have to be one up to Premier League standards.
With that in mind, some of the players who are currently pulling on a Claret and Blue shirt will have to make way, as they just aren’t up to top flight standard in my view.
Without further ado, this is what my starting 11 would be at the start of next season…
Goalkeeper – Tom Heaton
Heaton has played a key role in a Burnley back line that has kept 9 clean sheets so far this season. He has come big in games when we have needed him most and won us countless points – his performance against Manchester United and late double save against Southampton spring to mind. Burnley may face a battle to keep hold of him in the summer if one of the big boys comes calling, but captaining a Premier League side and getting regular game time could be enough to keep Heaton at Turf Moor.
Right Back – Matthew Lowton
Lowton started off the season slowly, but he has grown to become a vital part of a solid back line, and he should be retained in the summer. The former Villa full back is solid defensively and is rarely out of position, but over summer he should be looking at working on his crossing to make him the complete full back. If he could add end product to his game, then we could have a top quality right back on our hands.
Centre Back – James Tarkowski
Tarkowski has had to wait patiently for a first team opportunity, but come next season, he will more than likely get the chance he has been craving. Michael Keane is seemingly on his way out over summer, so the former Oldham centre half is likely to be starting at the heart of the Clarets’ defence. Most Burnley fans will have no qualms about Tarkowski filling in at centre half as he has shown in previous appearances he is more than capable playing top flight football.
Centre Back – Ben Mee
Mee has been colossal at the back for Burnley this season, and in recent weeks, has out-shone Keane. He is willing to throw himself in front of anything and his presence inside the 18 yard box is invaluable. Not only that, Mee is a leader on the pitch and is often the person who gets the Clarets going. Without him, Burnley would definitely be a far weaker side, so it is imperative we keep hold of him.
Left Back – Andrew Robertson
Robertson had been linked with a move to Burnley in January, but Hull City blocked the move as they continue their fight for Premier League safety. The Hull left back would certainly be a great addition to the Burnley squad. His attacking intent and defensive solidity make him the perfect modern day full back. Bringing Robertson would mean the Stephen Ward would miss out, rather harshly. Ward, for me, has been Burnley’s player of the season, but I feel Robertson has slightly more to his game than Ward.
Centre Midfield – Jeff Hendrick
When Hendrick signed at Turf Moor as the clubs ‘record signing’, he seemed to be feeling the pressure, which showed in his performances. However, once he settled in, he quickly established himself as a key player, producing some fine performances from November onwards. Out of all the midfielders currently at Turf Moor, for me, Hendrick is the best and should be almost assured a place in the side for next season.
Centre Midfield – Dale Stephens
Sean Dyche tried, and failed, on seven occasions to lure Dale Stephens to Turf Moor in the summer. Although he was keen on the move, Brighton continued to block the transfer. Stephens is out of contract at the end of the season, and he doesn’t seem to be showing any signs of signing a new deal. The Brighton midfielder would be a quality addition to the midfield. He knows how to use the ball, and with Defour seemingly on his way out, Stephens would be the perfect replacement.
Centre Midfield – Ashley Westwood
Westwood signed at Turf Moor in January from Aston Villa, but he has found first team football hard to come by since his move. He made starts against Chelsea, Lincoln and Hull in Hendrick’s absence but he was displaced as soon as the Clarets number 13 was back. There is no doubting Westwood is a very tidy player and his use of the ball is very good. Alongside other good players in the midfield, who can also retain possession, I feel that he could become a key player for the Clarets next season.
Right Wing – Adama Traore
Traore is probably a choice from left field, and one that will leave Burnley fans maybe scratching their heads. However, Traore is everything Burnley don’t really have at the moment – someone with pace, power and incision going forward, who can unlock a defence and create a game changing chance. Only Robbie Brady does this in parts for the Clarets. Traore isn’t the typical ‘Dyche player’ but, if he came to Burnley and worked under Dyche, he would certainly improve, both on the attacking side of his game, and defensive.
Striker – Shane Long
Long would be another player who I would sign and add to the Irish contingency that is building at Burnley. The Republic of Ireland international seems to be out of favour at St Mary’s and I feel he would be tempted by a move to Turf Moor if it was offered. With Andre Gray looking set to move on in the summer, we need to replace him with quality, and Long certainly falls into that bracket, and in my opinion, is twice the player Andre Gray is.
Left Wing – Robbie Brady
January’s club record signing, Robbie Brady, had a slow start to life at Turf Moor and he was taken out of the starting 11 not long after he signed. However, since he has returned, he has shown exactly why Sean Dyche spent £13 million on bringing him to Turf Moor. Brady has been a breath of fresh air at Burnley, providing some excitement going forward and he can get Burnley fans off their seats, something nobody else can do. Next season, I feel Brady will prove to be a huge hit at Turf Moor.