Burnley manager Sean Dyche says he was encouraged by what he saw from his players as the Clarets ran out comfortable 3-1 winners against Rangers on Saturday.
Andre Gray stole the headlines as he made it eight goals in five pre-season games with a clinical hat-trick, before defender Ben Mee diverted the ball into his own net from a Michael O’Halloran cross to give the Gers a late consolation.
The win maintains Burnley’s unbeaten pre-season run, with only Real Sociedad to come at Turf Moor next Friday ahead of their Premier League return.
And on the back of success at Ibrox, Dyche says his players are gradually becoming sharper heading in to the game against Spanish opposition.
Dyche said: “It was a very good performance, in the sense that our game plan was good today. We understood how the game might pan out, particularly away from home.
“They [Rangers] play here with that kind of style and, with all due respect, not with the same quality level as some of the players in the Premier League, en masse that is, but they try and drop out and make the pitch big, and a lot of Premier League clubs do that.
“In the last 25 minutes, I was a bit picky with the players, because we had control of the game, the feel of the game, we were creating chances and then just at the end, we ease away from it and get a bit loose.
“But some of that is fitness and focus, and they are getting fitter. There was more game time today, and we’ve had a good week, fitness-wise and work-wise, so going into the Sociedad game there may be a bit of fatigue, but then going into the Premier League we think the players will be really fit and sharp.”
The Burnley boss was also pleased to see Gray maintain his purple patch in front of the goal with a trio of well-taken finishes, including an early penalty and a brace of rifled finishes, and says the striker is happy with the way things are going at the club.
“He’s enjoying his football, and I think he’s enjoyed it ever since he’s been here. He looks like a player enjoying it, and he’s full of life at the moment,” Dyche said.
“He’s come back really fit, and that was one of the markers I put down for the players, because every time you step up, it’s not just your talent, it’s a step-up in everything, and he’s come back fit and well and enjoying everything so far, and long may that continue.”