Burnley boss Dyche - Players are fitter and sharper

Charlie Taylor
Charlie Taylor

Clarets boss Sean Dyche feels his players are “fitter and sharper” than last pre-season, three weeks before their Premier League opener.

Burnley face Southampton at Turf Moor on Saturday, August 10th, with Dyche delighted with his squad after their third week back in training.

After a training week in the Algarve last week was rounded off by a 1-0 win behind closed doors against Championship side Fulham, Burnley took on Accrington Stanley and Tranmere Rovers at the Barnfield Training Centre on Tuesday, with his two sides swapping opposition at half-time.

The Clarets ran out 8-0 winners against Accrington, with two goals from Jay Rodriguez and a hat-trick for Chris Wood, while Matej Vydra struck twice against Tranmere, who overturned a 2-1 deficit at the break to win 3-2.

Dyche was without Ashley Barnes, Phil Bardsley and Charlie Taylor on Tuesday, but all three are expected to feature tomorrow as the squad is again split for games at League 2 Crewe Alexandra and Port Vale.

Midfielder Steven Defour continues to work back to full fitness, with his calf still an issue.

Dyche said of his squad: “So far, all the data we have got from the GPS vests and testing has shown the lads are all fitter and stronger than last pre-season.

“Everything supports that.

“All the lads look sharp.

“The main thing for us has been a clearer pre-season, with no Europa League this year, and hopefully that will help us after our first real tough year in terms of injuries.”

And with the fitness base in place after three tough weeks – including last week’s gruelling ‘Gaffer’s Day’ – Burnley will start finely-tuning the football side of things in the next three weeks: “The lads have worked hard, and they will again today (Thursday) and tomorrow (Friday), with the games on Saturday as well.

“This is really the end of the really heavy work phase, and then we start building more into the football planning.”

Taylor missed Tuesday’s training games with “a bit of a tight groin”, while Bardsley picked up an ankle knock on Monday which was “nothing serious”.

Barnes had a personal matter to attend to, with all three expected to play some part tomorrow.

However, Defour remains behind the curve: “He’s still having niggles with his calf, and we have to be careful.

“We’ll just go with that as it settles down.”

His two summer signings to date, Jay Rodriguez and Erik Pieters, have both settled in well so far, with both scoring on Tuesday, with Dyche noting: “It always helps getting them in early.”

But in terms of any more new faces, he added: “Ones that we thought might go somewhere have gone away, and nothing else has moved any closer.”