Head coach of Burnley Sean Dyke says his side are ready for the drop fight in this season’s top flight football after losing nine of their last eleven games.
Burnley go into Sunday’s clash with West Ham three points adrift of safety and on the back of a home hammering by Everton.
After West Ham, Burnley face a key test at Huddersfield tomorrow, while matches against Fulham, Watford, Southampton and Brighton follow over the next few weeks.
Boss Dyche said: “All games are important. But it’s fair to say that it’s a different story against some clubs than it is to others. There are a group of teams we have to challenge ourselves against and we’re playing some of them in the next four games. Beyond that, there’s a clutch of games over the next eight.
“We’ve got one of the big names in there, and then the rest are teams we’d like to think we should compete against.”
Dyche had been renowned for making very few changes to his team, but this season has seen him tinkering with personnel and formation.
Initially, the Europa League prompted a rethink in approach, but lately it has been about trying to find a solution to Burnley’s poor form and leaky defence, while coping with persistent injury issues.
Dyche said: “We’re shuffling to try and get that mixture, that blend, that can be successful. I think that’s an ongoing thing until people settle into the slots. We’ve got close to having the full squad available and every time we get there we’ve had injuries, and I don’t think that’s helpful.
“We’ve had situations where we’ve had no wide men available, we’ve had situations where centre-halves have been down with hernias – at one point two centre-halves.
“There’s been a lot of challenges. Our job is to navigate our way through that and still find wins.
“We’ve attempted to do that, but we know the second half of the season is quite obviously very, very important.”
West Ham are in contrasting form to Burnley having won five of their last six games to climb into the top 10, which is no surprise to Dyche.
“I think the only surprise with West Ham over the last few seasons is that they haven’t been doing this because they’re a good squad,” he said.