Burnley boss Sean Dyche impressed by Cowley brothers at Lincoln
Burnley boss Sean Dyche has praised Lincoln's Cowley brothers for proving there is more than one route into management.
Dyche's road to the dugout was a traditional one, taking in 20 years in the professional game and time on the Watford coaching staff before becoming a number one.
It was a different story for 38-year-old Danny Cowley and younger brother Nicky, who were still working as PE teachers at FitzWimarc School in Rayleigh while manager and assistant at Braintree last year.
After steering the unfancied side to the Vanarama National League play-offs the pair were recruited by the Imps, quit their education careers and are busy making waves at Sincil Bank.
As well as being top of the table and favourites to return to the English Football League they have also knocked out Sky Bet Championship sides Ipswich and Brighton to reach the FA Cup fifth round.
A trip to Turf Moor on Saturday is their reward and Dyche is full of admiration for the duo.
"They've come out of teaching and done a good job in non-league. They've gone in full-time at Lincoln and are making a good show of it," he said.
"There are many different pathways into football, there's always the debate on managers' backgrounds, who's played and who hasn't, at different levels, but I don't think there's an exact pathway.
"It can be helpful if you've played as you have an inside view, particularly when dealing with players, knowing what they're going through, but it's not an absolute prerequisite, which is why football people can go into other businesses and be a success.
"There are many different ways of being a leader or manager."
Dyche made a personal trip to scout City last weekend, just 24 hours before masterminding his side's 1-1 draw against Chelsea, talking with supporters and taking notes during a 3-2 win over Woking.
Burnley youngster Josh Ginnelly was also playing for Lincoln on loan, giving Dyche two reasons to make the journey.
"We've had the scouting reports but I went down there last weekend. I spoke to some of their fans.just chatting away about football," he said.
"It was an awkward day with the weather but they did enough to win and they're an attacking side. They play 4-2-4, get the ball forward quickly, they have various ways to try and affect the game and a big centre forward (Matt Rhead) who knows the game from years of being in it.
"They are full of energy, will and desire - all the things good teams are made of. So we've got to make sure we certainly match that and show our quality.
"We've made the players prepare properly, they've had the detail and focus needed. You take all that into the game and there's still no guarantees, you have to deliver."
Robbie Brady is cup-tied and Jeff Hendrick banned. Steven Defour (hamstring) is still out but Johann Berg Gudmundsson is fit to return.
Meanwhile, Cowley and his Lincoln team will aim to "achieve the impossible" again when they take on the Clarets but the Imps boss believes their FA Cup run - whenever it ends - will stand the club in good stead for the future.
"We've achieved the impossible to get here, we've just got to go and do it again," said Cowley, who was at Turf Moor last weekend to watch Burnley's 1-1 draw with Premier League leaders Chelsea.
"If we're realistic, we'd probably only beat them once in a hundred times but we've to go into the game believing this is that one game, that one opportunity, in a hundred because without belief we have nothing.
"We're going to make sure we give the very best version of ourselves and try to match the commitment of our supporters who have been queuing up all night to get tickets.
"We're going to be brave, we're going to fight and give it one hell of a go. If we do all of those things, we might give ourselves that chance."
Should Lincoln's run come to an end on Saturday, Cowley believes the experience bodes well for the future.
He said: "I can't tell you how much this run has developed Nicky and I and the players.
"It's really fast-tracked our development. It's been brilliant and whenever this cup run ends, we will cherish what we have learned from it. It will hold us in really good stead for all of our futures."
Lincoln have no new problems ahead of the tie and only long-term absentee Lee Beevers (knee) will miss out through injury at Turf Moor.