SEAN Dyche insists flexibility was not a motivating factor in his decision to swoop for Ashley Barnes.

The striker has been used up top, off the front and out wide by old club Brighton, where he spent the last three-and-a-half seasons – helping them to clinch promotion to the Championship in 2011.

“I think that’s more a case of how they've been playing at Brighton with a 4-3-3,” said Dyche.

“I certainly view him as a centre forward primarily. “He will not only support but challenge the group.”

In operating with small squad numbers managers find it useful to have players who are capable of playing in more than one position and Dyche is no exception. But he sees Barnes’ versatility as a bonus rather than a necessity.

Dyche added: “It helps that we have that flexibility because we’re carrying about 18 players so of course that flexible nature of a player, who can play in other positions, is always helpful.

“But we’ve brought him in mainly to be a centre forward,” said the Burnley boss, who has backed Barnes to enhance his team.

“He’s only 24 but I’d like to think he brings a bit of experience.

“He’s someone who wants to improve and develop. He’s certainly not shy on work ethic.

“We’re hoping he enjoys his time at Burnley and progresses. We believe in developing players and we believe in his development now he’s with us.

“And he will not only support but challenge the group.

“It’s not just about supporting the front two, it’s a challenge to make sure they know he’s someone who’s desperate to get on the football pitch.”

And although leading strikers Sam Vokes and 21-goal top scorer Danny Ings have 33 goals between them in all competitions for Burnley this season, with Barnes on board Dyche says their places are not guaranteed, and that the signing was not a safety net in the event of either forward suffering an enforced absence.

“I don’t bring any player to a football club who I don’t think can challenge the team,” added Dyche.

“He’s someone we wanted and someone we like. We think he fits not just the team but the model of the club – not just financially but his development and what he can add to the club.

“There are many boxes that he ticked for our football club at this time.”