Ireland captaincy can give Brady and Burnley a confidence boost

Robbie Brady returns to Burnley after international duty having been made the captain of the Republic of Ireland, and Clarets supporters will be hoping the armband has given him a lift.

Brady was selected as skipper for the first time -- following the horrible leg break suffered by defender Seamus Coleman -- for a friendly against Iceland in Dublin, rewarding manager Martin O'Neill with a strong performance at left-back.

The captaincy was a show of faith in the 25-year-old, who was recently named Ireland's Senior International Player of the Year for 2016 after scoring two goals in their run to the round of 16 at Euro 2016. Brady swept the board at the ceremony, claiming the goal prize for his excellent header against Italy and adding the award for young player, too.

But Burnley are yet to see much from Brady, with the winger seeming to be low on confidence since a January move from Norwich City that made him the most expensive player in the club's history, succeeding his international colleague and childhood friend Jeff Hendrick.

After a stunning free kick against Chelsea got Brady up and running in Claret colours, he has struggled to make an impact and was subsequently dropped to the bench by manager Sean Dyche for the 2-1 loss at Anfield and 0-0 draw at Sunderland.

Taking Brady out of the firing line after a couple of below-par performances made sense, but with so much money having been spent to bring him to Turf Moor, it is odd that the player he was presumably bought to replace, George Boyd, has quickly been judged to be a better option.

Patience is required with Brady, and Hendrick is a good example of how players can take time to settle into Dyche's system, especially when they are moving up a league from the Championship. Hendrick's first few Burnley performances were extremely underwhelming, but after a sensational strike against Bournemouth, he started to look at home in the Premier League.

Brady's quality is not in doubt, but his confidence is evidently fragile and careful management will be required by Dyche to get the best out of a player who can help the club reach the next level.

Another Claret who got a major boost during the break was the hugely-talented centre-back Michael Keane, who profited from injuries to Phil Jones and Chris Smalling to feature for England for the full 90 minutes against both Germany and Lithuania and collect his first two international caps.

Keane's debut appearance for the Three Lions has been overdue for some months, and he immediately looked completely at ease, organising his more senior colleagues and spraying terrific cross-field balls. While supporters were thrilled and proud to see the 24-year-old deservedly receive recognition from Gareth Southgate, it makes his departure look even more inevitable.

The former Manchester United defender has been linked with a return to Old Trafford and Chelsea and Everton are also reportedly interested. Burnley will feel the need to cash in on the youngster, as he will only have a year left on his contract at the end of the season.

A battle between Keane and Tottenham striker Harry Kane would have been well worth watching, but the Englishman's absence with an ankle ligament injury gives Burnley hope that their long-awaited return to Turf Moor will be fruitful. Without Kane, Spurs can be slightly one-dimensional, although the brilliant Dele Alli is certainly capable of chipping in with goals.

The Clarets have not played at home for six weeks, and fans could be forgiven for forgetting exactly where the stadium is. Despite not winning any of their past seven matches in all competitions, they have won five of their last six home league games, and runaway Premier League leaders Chelsea are the only team to have stopped them since November.

Burnley have only been beaten by Manchester City and Arsenal at home since a 1-0 defeat to Swansea City on the opening day, with strong form at fortress Turf Moor keeping them afloat.

Taking two points from their run of four successive away matches leaves Dyche's side with a handy eight-point cushion from the bottom three, but with testing fixtures coming up, they are not quite safe yet. Upcoming visits from Stoke City and West Brom look like the optimal matches to collect the few points the Clarets still require to survive in the Premier League for the first time.

Spurs had to be at their best to come from behind and win 2-1 at White Hart Lane in December, and Burnley can push them close again, having won this fixture on three of the past six times it has been played at Turf Moor, but the in-form visitors will be favourites despite being without Kane.