"Barnesy will come again, I'm sure of that, as will Jay Rod - I believe in all four of the strikers, so they'll have their chances again" - Burnley boss Sean Dyche on his strikers

Burnley striker Ashley Barnes has been written off time and again at Premier League level.

Saturday, 17th April 2021, 10:30 pm
Ashley Barnes

But boss Sean Dyche insists "Barnesy will come again, I'm sure of that."

Many held the opinion when Barnes joined the club from Brighton in January 2014, with the club hoping to seal promotion, that he wouldn't unseat Sam Vokes or Danny Ings, or be good enough for the top flight.

A tally of 41 Premier League goals later, leaves him level with Chris Wood as the club's leading Premier League goalscorer.

However, while Barnes and Wood have often been Dyche's go-to strike pairing, Barnes has endured a frustrating 18 months or so, with a string of niggling injuries.

He missed 25 games last term with a groin injury and subsequent hernia surgery and complications, and has currently been out for two months with a torn thigh.

So he has only been able to find the net nine times in the last two seasons, having hit double figures in both of the previous campaigns.

Dyche explained his continued absence: "It's a strange one, he was actually playing with it, but it's a sore one, and because he was playing with it, we didn't really understand how damaged it was, and when he had a scan on it, it was quite a big tear, so it's a longer period of recovery.

"He's had a couple of minor setbacks along the way, so he's been very unfortunate, and that's sometimes how it hits players over a career - Robbie Brady has been unfortunate, Johann has had his fair share.

"They are diligent pros who look after themselves, but sometimes your body is not quite in the balance it needs to be to stay strong.

"He's a strong character, so I'm pretty sure he'll come through it. He looks more alive in himself at the moment, he's just getting involved with us, not training fully, just getting around the group, and that will do him and us good."

Asked whether he will feature again this season, Dyche added: "I hope so, I wouldn't put a timescale on anything at the minute, because every time I have done this season, it's kicked me in the rear!

"There have been so many times this season I thought we'll be back to just about a full compliment next week, and then we're not and we've got another five injuries...

"I was hoping after the last three weeks of the break, I was very confident we'd have more or less everyone back, and, of course, we haven't.

"We've got more injuries again.

"It's been one of those, a real head scratcher, and a real challenge, no two ways about it."

Still only 31, Barnes has another year on his contract, and Dyche believes he will make up for lost time soon enough: "People don't forget about you, it's just when you're hot, you're hot, and when you're not, you're not, simple as that.

"Something happens, a connection is made, and you go with that one, then someone is injured and the next one comes in and remind us 'oh he's a good player as well', it's the way football works.

"Everyone thinks the next answer is the right answer, but often you go back to the ones that have done well before, and they remind us why they're here, because they're good players.

"Barnesy will come again, I'm sure of that, as will Jay Rod - I believe in all four of the strikers, so they'll have their chances again."

Although only Fulham and Sheffield United have scored fewer than the Clarets this season, Burnley's goals for column has picked up of late, with seven goals in their last five outings, six of which have been shared by Wood and Matej Vydra.

That pairing has been a success, but all four strikers, Barnes, Wood, Vydra and Rodriguez have shown they are compatible with each other in different spells: "That's been important as well, I've said all along, you want your players to operate together because of any given situation, fortunately they have done, at varying times, because of injury mainly.

"I think that's been important, their mentality to play with each other in different ways and learn about each other's different games, and they've done that well.

"They are the hardest things to coach, you can offer different solutions to different moments in a game, but they've got to deliver, and sometimes the best learning is when they just adapt naturally to each other.

"That can take time."