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WHAT do Le­ices­ter, Burn­ley and Bur­ton have in com­mon?

One, they’re all top of their re­spec­tive di­vi­sions.

Two, they’ve used fewer play­ers than any­body else – 23 to be ex­act.

Those facts are not co­in­ci­den­tal.

Ask any coach or man­ager for the key to suc­cess and the buzz­word will be con­sis­tency.

Derby boast more depth than the Mar­i­ana Trench, but if all it does is fester on the bench and give man­agers se­lec­tion headaches, what’s the point?

On pa­per, at least, the Rams have used only one player more than Burn­ley.

What those stats fail to show is a start­ing XI in con­stant flux and a team shape that is tin­kered to death.

As with Le­ices­ter and Bur­ton, you don’t need a team sheet or a fancy graphic to tell you that Burn­ley will line up 4-4-2, with the same play­ers in the ex­act same po­si­tions ev­ery week. Al­ready this sea­son, eight Clarets play­ers have made more than 30 starts, with Tom Heaton, Scott Ar­field and Ben Mee ev­er­p­re­sent.

Sean Dy­che doesn’t tai­lor his tac­tics to ac­count for the op­po­si­tion.

He doesn’t make changes to keep peo­ple happy. He doesn’t give peo­ple a rest.

He does what the great Liver­pool sides of the 70s and 80s did. He fields a con­sis­tent team and says ‘Come and beat us’.

Like the rest of this sea­son’s pace-set­ters, Burn­ley’s con­tin­u­ing suc­cess sug­gests that clubs should spend less cash on the depth of their squads and more on med­i­cal staff who can keep their best play­ers fit.

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