Burnley team that started against Cadiz won’t necessarily open Premier League season against Brighton
Often managers give big clues as to their opening day line-up in their final public warm-up games.
But Sean Dyche insists the side that started the 2-0 defeat against Cadiz at Turf Moor on Saturday won’t necessarily get the nod as the Premier League campaign kicks-off at home to Brighton at the weekend.
Goalkeeper Nick Pope made his first appearance of pre-season after a knee operation shortly after the end of last season, which ruled him out of Euro 2020, while the back four looked like the first choice unit, bar Phil Bardsley coming in for Matt Lowton, who was isolating as a family member has COVID-19.
Josh Brownhill started on the right of midfield ahead of Johann Berg Gudmundsson, with a decision still to be made on who will be Dyche’s central two against the Seagulls, and up front, Chris Wood got 45 minutes after returning from the Olympics, while Matej Vydra, who also recently returned to training after the Euros, got more game time, with questions over who will partner the Clarets’ top scorer, who is likely to start, against Brighton.
Cadiz inflicted a first defeat of pre-season, with one more game to come behind closed doors on Tuesday, and Dyche said: “I never really worry about results in pre-season, because it’s all about when the real thing starts, but we’ve had a strong pre-season.
“The biggest thing is we wanted to come through unscathed injury-wise, which we have, touch wood, up to now, and that’s been important.
“Last season we had so many injuries, we looked at pre-season, looked at the players, and that’s why there were changes again - it wasn’t necessarily the team that will play (against Brighton) by any means.
“Therefore we’re looking out for the minutes played, against the challenge of the season coming, and hopefully the game schedule will be different.”
Asked about the absence of Lowton, Dyche explained: “Lowts is alright, someone in his family have COVID, he’s clear, but you have to do the right thing.”
And on Pope’s return, he added: “Pleased to get him 90, he was happy, he was clear-minded, we mentioned it the other day against Newcastle, he said no, just wanted to make sure he had a good week’s training, play today, so it’s good, and he’ll feel better for getting 90 under his belt.
“You have to be careful, and he has more or less been on track, he’s felt right, which is key, he’s trained all week and felt good about playing today.”
Burnley will, however, be without Kevin Long and former Brighton man Dale Stephens for the opener: “They’re still going to be a bit yet, they’re certainly not ready. They won’t be ready for the start of the season.”