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Burnley-Southampton Preview

Thanks to their rise in the Premier League table, Burnley could be in for a busy season.

Having already received a taste of European competition, the Clarets open domestic league play Sunday against Southampton at St Mary's.

By virtue of their seventh-place finish in the Premier League last season, Burnley earned a spot in the second qualifying round of the Europa League - reaching European play for the first time in 51 years. That could make for an involved all-around campaign for the Clarets, when throwing the FA Cup and League Cup into the mix.

"It's difficult to find the balances," manager Sean Dyche told the club's official website.

After beating Aberdeen over two legs in the second qualifying round of Europa, Burnley opens the league season three days after playing Istanbul Basaksehir to a goalless draw in Turkey for the first-leg of third-round qualification. The second leg is Thursday at Turf Moor.

Injuries and ineligibilities have Burnley thin at the moment as Chris Wood, Steven Defour, Tom Heaton and Anders Lindegaard all missed the match in Turkey. It's uncertain who will be available for Sunday's contest, however, regulars Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, James Tarkowski, Ashley Barnes and Sam Vokes got their time on the pitch.

Regardless, the fact that Burnley is back in European competition is something in itself, and perhaps another means for motivation for the club that can carry over into the Premier League.

"They said they wanted a European tour, and six years ago, when I got here, they weren't thinking of nights like this," Dyche said after Thursday's draw. "I'm not saying I was either, by the way, so these are fantastic days and memories for them."

Recent signee and spurned England international Joe Hart was ready, and kept a clean sheet in his Burnley debut.

"I loved it," Hart said of his Burnley baptism.

Depending on Lindegaard's fitness level or even that of Nick Pope, Hart could again be in net against Southampton, who look for a better 2018-19 campaign after dodging relegation last season.

The Saints dropped all the way to 17th in the table, one spot and three points from the drop. Top-half regulars the previous four seasons, Southampton won just seven games, including two of the final four.

Mark Hughes, who took over for the sacked Mauricio Pellegrino in March after he himself was let go by Stoke two months earlier, must have the Saints ready to go from the start. They earned five points in August last season, then lost three of four in September.

"The Premier League is the best place to be and we have to enjoy it, but if we want to enjoy it we have to fight for it," defender Maya Yoshida told Southampton's official website. "Last season, we dropped so many points at the start of the season, so we can't make the same mistake again. We have to learn from that."

Charlie Austin should again be up front after leading the club with seven league goals. Talented Danish defender Jannik Vestergaard comes over from Monchengladbach and ex-Burnley forward Danny Ings was added from Liverpool, where he saw little time.Vokes' 81st-minute score gave Burnley a 1-0 win at St Mary's in November, and the teams played to a 1-1 draw at Turf Moor in February.

Updated August 10, 2018

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