Burnley manager Sean Dyche believes youngster Dwight McNeil is cut out for stardom.
The Clarets took an early lead but went down to an eventual 4-2 defeat against Premier League title-chasers Liverpool on Sunday, leaving them two points above the relegation zone.
But teenage winger McNeil added to an impressive body of work in his debut season as he dazzled at Anfield, giving Dyche cause for optimism after an unusually error-strewn performance by his backline.
“It’s obvious that you can’t make those mistakes but there were a lot of good things overall, culminating in an absolutely top-drawer performance from Dwight McNeil,” he told a post-match news conference.
“That young man’s got a massive chance of being a top, top player in my opinion.
“He continues to grow. Every time I wonder whether I should leave him out, I think, ‘No, keep the boy playing’. It’s good for him and it’s good for us.
“If he keeps his head down and keeps working like he is doing, he’s got a massive future.”
The 19-year-old enjoyed an absorbing tussle with Liverpool’s England full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold.
“I thought he was winning the battle, I’ve got to be honest and [against] a fantastic right-back as well,” Dyche said.
“I thought Dwight was outstanding – just his composure and his belief in what he does.
“I could have taken him off but I didn’t want to. I was enjoying his performance that much. I thought, ‘No, no, no – you keep playing, son’.
“It’s fantastic to see the youngsters going on and doing that, fantastic.”
REACTION | “I thought I did well when I got on the ball, I’ve just got to be positive more” – McNeil
Dwight McNeil gives his thoughts after an impressive performance at Anfield.
— Burnley FC (@BurnleyOfficial) March 10, 2019
As such, Dyche believes McNeil would be worthy of an England Under-21 call-up for the games against Poland and Germany later this month.
“I would think he’s got to be considered but I never question any manager of any description choosing a team or a squad because it’s difficult,” he said.
Ashley Westwood’s sixth-minute opener for Burnley proved a moment of controversy, with Reds’ boss Jurgen Klopp among those who felt his goalkeeper Alisson was impeded as the midfielder’s corner sailed directly into the net.
“It’s a tough call, I think,” Dyche added. “If they go against you, you’re unhappy; if they go for you, you say it’s a good ball in.”
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