Burnley boss looking to keep squad intact

CLARETS boss Sean Dyche insists there is no pecking order as he looks to keep his squad together.
ONE DOWN: Ross Wallace has already signed a new contractONE DOWN: Ross Wallace has already signed a new contract
ONE DOWN: Ross Wallace has already signed a new contract

Ross Wallace signed a new two-year deal two weeks ago, but Lee Grant, Chris McCann, Martin Paterson, Dean Marney, Brian Jensen, Michael Duff and Kevin Long are all out of contract in the summer.

Of those, only Long would attract a fee as he is under 24, and the club have already held initial talks with Grant, McCann, Paterson and Marney.

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All bar Jensen, in his testimonial year, and Long are playing regularly for the first team at present, but Dyche said: “We work with each player and each representative accordingly.

“There’s no pecking order, because that might be something people ask about.

“It’s just doing things as we get feedback from the agent and the player appropriate to what we can do.

“That’s all in the mix as well.

“Things are positive about what we’re doing.

“Most footballers want to play football, they want to improve and they want to do well.

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“That’s the main thing as a footballer, but your contract has to be appropriate. It’s just the way it is.”

While Dyche looks to keep the nucleus of his side together, he has been out and about looking at loan targets, although nothing is moving in or out at present: “Not at the moment.

“We’re all shooting off to games.

“Some of us are looking at future opponents and players for the future, loans for the future. “It does give you a good window for that when a game’s called off, because otherwise it’s hard to get out.”

Burnley, meanwhile, are back in action tonight at home to Middlesbrough, having been inactive on Saturday due to Huddersfield’s involvement in the FA Cup.

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The sides will meet a week tonight instead at Turf Moor, after a trip to Brighton on Saturday.

But Boro are first up tonight, with the Clarets looking to close the gap on the sixth-place side to four points, with a game in hand.

Dyche is an admirer of Boro boss Tony Mowbray: “I like Tony. He obviously has strong opinions of his thoughts on the game and how his team should do things.

“But I also think he’s been very honest and very open with me whenever I speak to him.

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“I like what he does and I think he’s the real genuine bloke that he comes across as.”

He may be somewhat less animated than Dyche in the dugout, but he added: “Personally, I am what I am in the dugout. I think some other managers possibly aren’t.

“I think maybe they have an imaginary picture of what they should be.

“I respond to what goes on in the game. It’s as simple as that.

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“I can assure you my focus is on the team and not anything else. But I think that link with the game is important.

“I think you can be too detached from it. I think there’s a balance.

“It doesn’t seem as popular now but maybe 10-12 years ago some managers used to sit in the stands.

“It doesn’t seem as obvious that managers do that.

“You’ve got to be careful to not be too detached from the emotion of it.”

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Burnley are again expected to be without Michael Duff (calf) tonight, and Ben Mee continues to make steady progress after a setback on his return from a knee injury.

Dyche said of Mee: “He’s not in full training yet so that’s normally a marker.

“In his case, because of the length of it it’s not going to be a case of coming into full training and playing after three days. It’s going to be a week’s training with the players then we’ll build up from there as regards a reserve game.

“He’s on the verge of joining in but isn’t there yet.

“He’s a very honest, forthright stand-up kind of guy and he’s feeling it.

“No player wants to be injured.

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“You don’t want to sit and look at all four walls of a gym, it’s not as much fun as running around playing football.

“It’s a shame for him but he’s a very conscientious lad and he knows that it’s part of the nature of the job, as they all do.”

But Mee could return at a key stage of the season: “The season’s still well alive to get back fit and it can be more of a challenge.

“There are plenty of games to come.

“We’re hopeful it settles down quickly enough to get back to training again and back in contention.

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“Ben had a minor setback - nowhere near back to square one but it slows everything down so you have to start building things back up again.

“The first few days afterwards you have to be very careful and cautious so that they don’t get re-injured.

“He’s just had a bit of misfortune along the way - nothing more than that.”

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