Tonight's game: Four Burnley players to watch
Manchester United will be looking to make it nine wins from as many games under caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer when Burnley visit Old Trafford tonight (Tuesday).
The Reds will be aiming for a seventh successive Premier League win in the process but, despite losing 5-0 across Manchester at City in the Emirates FA Cup last weekend, the Clarets have drawn on their last two trips to the Theatre of Dreams. Ahead of the 20:00 GMT kick-off, we've picked out four members of Sean Dyche's squad - one in each position - for you to keep an eye on...
Chester-born stopper Tom Heaton picked up an FA Youth Cup winner’s medal with United back in 2003, and remained on the club’s books until 2010 – a seven-year spell that saw him loaned out to seven clubs.
A successful temporary stint at Cardiff in 2008/09 would eventually result in a permanent move to the Welsh capital the following year as Heaton sought out regular playing time, and over the next four seasons he would rack up 118 Championship appearances across three clubs: Cardiff, Bristol City, then Burnley, after Sean Dyche signed him up in May 2013.
Capped three times by England since then, Heaton’s fast approaching 200 appearances for the Clarets, and now back in the starting XI he’ll be hoping for a performance to match the one he had at Old Trafford in 2016/17, as he put in an inspired display in a goalless draw.
Versatile defender Ben Mee came through the ranks of Manchester City’s Academy, joining the Clarets on a season-long loan in July 2011 – a move that was made permanent six months later. Mee operated as a left-back during his first term at Turf Moor, before striking up a solid partnership in the middle with Michael Keane the following season.
The 2015/16 promotion campaign saw Mee win the club’s Players’ Player of the Season award, and following Keane’s departure to Everton in July 2017, Mee wasted little time in striking up another successful defensive partnership, this time with James Tarkowski.
A team renowned for their defensive stubbornness, the pair won many plaudits following last term’s top-half finish, with Dyche not the only one calling for Mee to join Tarkowski in Gareth Southgate’s England squad. “Ben sometimes is looked on as the solid type while others catch the eye, but I like defenders who defend, which he does. He punches well above his weight physically.”
Another former youth player at United, Dwight McNeil made the switch to Burnley in 2014, aged 14, and he’s since emerged as one of the club’s most exciting young talents.
After impressing for the Clarets’ Under-18s, the Rochdale-born midfielder/forward was a leading performer for their U23s last season – a campaign that saw him named Burnley’s Young Player of the Year. After making his first-team bow as a substitute against Bournemouth on the final day of 2017/18, McNeil caught the eye in the early weeks of the current campaign, with his first Premier League start coming against United in September.
By December, McNeil had earned an extended run in the team, and he ended a highly encouraging year with another milestone – a first senior goal in Burnley’s 2-0 win over West Ham on 30 December. Last week saw the teenager rewarded with a new four-and-a-half-year contract, extending his stay at the club until June 2023.
A much-travelled striker, even at the age of 27, Chris Wood has never been a prolific scorer but always poses a threat due to his strength and height. The New Zealand international is in his second season with the Turf Moor club, with spells at West Bromwich Albion, Leicester and, most recently, Leeds also on his CV prior to his £15m move to east Lancashire.
Wood made an instant impact on his Burnley debut with an injury-time leveller at Wembley against Spurs, and he ended his first season top of the club’s scoring charts with 11 goals in all competitions.
Ahead of the weekend’s FA Cup tie at Manchester City, Wood also led the way with goals in 2018/19, with six, while he was so nearly the hero at Watford last time out in the league, only for his injury-time goal to be deemed offside in what was a debatable decision. United’s win at Turf Moor in September was his first run-out against the Reds, and he’ll be keen to mark his maiden Old Trafford outing in a positive manner.
MUTV subscribers will be able to watch live build-up to United v Burnley from 18:30 GMT tonight.
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