New Burnley signing Dale Stephens knew exactly what to expect when moving to Turf Moor!

Having experienced the intensity of Sean Dyche's Burnley many times in the past, new man Dale Stephens knew exactly what he was walking into when signing on the dotted line last month.

Wednesday, 14th October 2020, 4:55 pm
Newcastle United's Irish midfielder Jeff Hendrick is tackled by Burnley's English defender James Tarkowski (back) and Dale Stephens (2nd L) during the English Premier League football match between Newcastle United and Burnley at St James' Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, north east England on October 3, 2020. (Photo by PETER POWELL / POOL / AFP)

The 31-year-old has been thrown in at the deep end since joining from Premier League rivals Brighton with an unforgiving and unrelenting programme.

The midfielder was handed his first Clarets start just 48 hours after moving back up north when partnering Ashley Westwood in a 1-0 defeat against Southampton at Turf Moor.

Stephens had trained individually after his arrival in preparation for the Saints and joined his team-mates for the first time on the eve of the fixture.

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Dale Stephens of Brighton & Hove Albion celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the Sky Bet Championship match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Burnley at Amex Stadium on April 2, 2016 in Brighton, England. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

The Bolton-born middle man, who has had spells at Bury, Oldham Athletic and Rochdale during his career, said: "I have enjoyed it. I have come into a period where we have played a lot of games.

"It definitely set the bar from day one. I signed and I trained on my own on day one and it was showing what the club was about and what was expected of every player.

"The session I did by myself was a testing day, the results were good but the test was tough. From day one it was 'this is what we are and this is what we are about'.

"I was thrown in at the deep end but I think it is better to learn on the job."

Stephens has gone up against Burnley nine times as a player since Dyche took over the club at the start of the 2012/13 campaign.

He featured once for Charlton Athletic when Sam Vokes (2) and Danny Ings wrapped up the points for the Clarets on the way to promotion.

Burnley's new number 16 went on to side with the Seagulls, but would only come out on top once in eight attempts.

Those experiences, he says, prepared him for what was to come. "I have played against the gaffer's teams for many a year and seen how they have played and played against that high energy so it wasn't a complete surprise," he said.

"We train hard, we train probably harder than what we did at Brighton but I think it is probably similar in terms of numbers and output from a physical perspective.

"We still have certain numbers to hit per session but he [Dyche] is keen on having the intensity level that we want to play at which is probably different to the philosophies I have played.

"It is probably a more energetic team that he wants. I am sure I will get to those levels as soon as possible."

Stephens has played in two of the club's three defeats so far this term and he feels the international break came at the right time.

The Clarets, who have key players returning from a spell on the sidelines, can hit the 'reset' button and start afresh on Monday evening.

He said: "It has to be (a reset). There is not a lot we can do about the first period of the Premier League season because it has gone.

"We can only focus on what we can affect really and that starts with a difficult game at West Brom.

"In terms of timing it has probably helped, having more time on the training pitch with more numbers back.

"We have had fewer numbers than we normally would in the squad and probably the break has come at a good time for everybody at the club.

"Going into West Brom we have more fitness and more numbers are back in the squad. There are no excuses anymore.

"We have had a lot of training this week with the international break and it is good to get used to more of the ideas the gaffer wants from us."

Stephens spent six-and-a-half years at the Amex, which he feels caused him to get a bit 'too comfortable' and complacent.

He acknowledges that he may have started to take his foot off the gas as a result, meaning the move to Burnley came at the perfect time.

"Just having a change and coming into a team that is different to what I was used to helps," said Stephens.

"Coming into an environment where I am going to challenge myself and play a different style of football.

"Everything about it made sense and I was probably too comfortable at Brighton for my liking, I didn't feel I was challenging myself as much and I had been there a long time.

"So to become a better footballer, hopefully, and have a better career this one made sense.

"To come here and play in a team and the way the manager wants to play, I know I can produce that. There were a number of things and along with being close to family etc it just seemed to really fit."