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What Burnley are saying: Dyche - pressure is all on Sunderland & Heaton recalls SoL with fondness

Burnley are the visitors today in a game Sunderland simply cannot afford to mess up. Here's what the opposition camp have been saying about their visit to the Stadium of Light.

Sunderland v Burnley - Premier League Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

The manager

His side may not have managed an away win all season, but Burnley boss Sean Dyche believes his team displayed enough in their last outing on the road to signal that the elusive first victory is not far off.

Sunderland v Burnley - The Emirates FA Cup Third Round
"There can't be much of this crap left" - Dyche checks his watch during the FA Cup bore draw the last time Burnley came to Sunderland.
Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

And what better way to break that travelling duck than a visit to rock-bottom Sunderland, who haven't won a game at home for three months.

Dyche took his men to Anfield last time out and they were not far away from escaping back across Lancashire with something for their troubles.

The Burnley boss believes the weight of expectation - or perhaps desperation - will weigh heavy in the air at the Stadium of Light this afternoon. Reflecting on his side being unbeaten in three occasions against Sunderland, Dyche said:

There will be a bigger expectation at their place because their fans will see it as 'you've got to beat them' - it's not mind games, I'm just trying to see how fans think.

And Dyche will be pointing to his side's three performances against Sunderland already this season, which saw the Black Cats barely threaten his team:

We've delivered some good performances [against Sunderland]. We don't look too much at the past because we want to guarantee the future, or look to guarantee.


The Players

Burnley striker Andre Gray may well arrive at the Stadium of Light with a point to prove tomorrow. The 25-year-old was expected to get his first call-up to the England squad this week, but Gareth Southgate opted to recall Sunderland's Jermain Defoe instead.

Gray has already scored four goals against Sunderland this season. Papy Djilobodji and Vito Mannone could be forgiven for hoping to swerve this one after the Burnley hit man humiliated them both hiting an impressive hattrick the last time the two sides met in the league.

Burnley v Sunderland - Premier League Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Meanwhile, Tom Heaton - the man keeping a senior England goalkeeping jersey warm for Jordan Pickford - believes his side have a great chance of a win against Sunderland:

We haven't lost any belief and we certainly feel that the result is just around the corner.

We've gone close again at Liverpool and hopefully the three points will be there on Saturday.

Burnley v Sunderland - Premier League
Tom Heaton celebrating his team's first goal against Sunderland in December
Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

And the Burnley 'keeper has fond memories of the Stadium of Light after he made his England debut here in May last year when Roy Hodgson arrived in Sunderland for a pre-Euro 2016 friendly, as Heaton told the Lancashire Telegraph:

It's the first time I've been back there since the England debut so I'm very fond of it. It's a stadium I enjoy just for that. I really enjoyed that night, it was great.


The Fans

They're a decent lot Burnley fans. Northern, grounded and genuinely proud of their team's achievements this season.

And this isn't a bad preview piece on fansite Clarets Mad. Here's the best bits.

Compare Dyche to David Moyes, who really is a manager under pressure and seems unable to motivate his players. The Sunderland fans will be resigned to being relegated if they lose on Saturday.

I have promised myself that before the game I am not going to get upset if Brady is playing on the right or if Defour doesn't even make the bench. l am going to put the Dyche spin out of my head and forget that some fans have already made their minds up we will not win away this season.

I am going to marvel at the striking skills of the recalled veteran England international Jermaine Defoe and pray he suffers an off day and that Sunderland continue their present run of goalless games.