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Burnley travel to St. Mary’s tomorrow to kick off the new Premier League season and that brings Sean Dyche up against Mark Hughes for the first time since he became the proudest man in Proudsville after our 1-0 win against Stoke in December last year.

Hughes lost his job at Stoke, who were eventually relegated, but went to Southampton and kept them up by the skin of their teeth. That landed him an extended contract and he’s now ready to start his first full season as Southampton boss.

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He’s looking for the fans to create the sort of atmosphere that he thought was so helpful in keeping them up last season and said: “It only comes if you produce on the field of play, by putting in performances that are committed and at a level that can affect the opposition.

“That’s what I’ve always tried to do with teams I’ve been in charge of. It’s always about trying to impose yourself onto the opposition in front of you. If we can do that, certainly at home where there’s no reason why we can’t, everybody is going to come along and enjoy the ride.”

Asked if our trip to Turkey would help his team, he said: “It’s a difficult one. “A lot of people think that because they played in Europe on Thursday, the stats show it’s more difficult to win the following Premier League game on a Sunday.

“It’s a little bit different in these circumstances because they’ve had more competitive games than we’ve had, so any advantage we would likely gain from their travelling is negated by the fact that they’ve had more competitive ninety minutes.

“We’ll have to wait and see, but it’s up to us to start brightly, and if there’s any lethargy in their bodies from travelling to Turkey, maybe we can capitalise on that.”

It’s about getting players back on the grass for Dyche. “We’ve just hit a period where we are a bit diluted with players,” he admitted. “They are getting fit, but we are going to have to dig in for the next few weeks until the players start getting back to full fitness. This early part is going to be about that; getting players fit and doing the best with the players available, then hopefully getting stronger.

“We’ve been in Istanbul until early Friday morning and then down to Southampton on the Sunday, but that’s the new challenge for all of us. People will judge the effects of the competition in time, but now is not the time because of the diluted group we’ve got available through injuries and fitness levels.

“It is what it is though. The fans wanted us to be in the Europa League, and we certainly did, and we’ve earned the right to be here, so you take on the challenges that it presents.”

He added: “On Thursday we tried to balance a side that could be productive and balance the workload over the next few days. We were hoping to come into the Europa League with more players fit and new signings, and although we made them, Matěj is going to be a bit behind the curve, so overall we’ve tried to find a balance between the workload, getting a result, and still being protective enough to ensure we have some fit players for Sunday.

“The team are well prepared for it by travelling by private jet, so we have moved forward as a club in that respect. I don’t over think it though, because they are super fit lads.”

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