While Burnley’s’ rise to seventh in the Premier League has caught many off guard, Adrian Mariappa says Sean Dyche’s excellent stewardship of the Clarets comes as little surprise.

Mariappa knows first-hand the quality Dyche has as a manager, having been at the club when he was in charge between 2011 and 2012.  

The 31-year-old centre-back has been impressed with the manner in which Dyche has led Burnley and believes he is worthy of the praise which has seen him linked with moves to bigger clubs.

“I am delighted for him. I had a really good time with him here and thoroughly enjoyed myself,” Mariappa said.

“You could see at that time that he was always going to go and do good things. He get the credit he deserves because he is a top, top manager.

“It is not for me to comment [on links with bigger jobs], but obviously he has done an unbelievable job at Burnley through the years.”

Mariappa’s comments came ahead of Watford’s visit to Turf Moor on Saturday where they will hope to go level on points with Burnley with a victory.

It will be no easy task for the Hornets and Mariappa expects a physical test against a well-drilled side, but insists Watford are ready to compete.

He said: “I don’t think our battling nature has ever been in question this season and we have had to battle at other places this season.

“We have shown great character and we know it will be an extremely tough game but another challenge we are looking forward to.” From a personal perspective, this season has been hugely productive for Mariappa and he has become an essential part of Marco Silva’s defence.

He has made the most of a number of defensive injuries to cement his place at the heart of the Watford defence, and is determined to prove he deserves to remain in the starting XI.

He said: “Last season I had to wait a long time for a chance and this time it has come a lot sooner. It is down to me to show that I deserve to be in the side and I believe in my ability to do that.”