Burnley wideman Brady closing in on a return
Clarets boss Sean Dyche hopes Robbie Brady is close to full fitness after a series of niggling injuries.
The Republic of Ireland winger hasn’t played a competitive game since December 2nd last year, when he suffered a serious knee injury.
And despite returning for pre-season looking to hit the ground running, the former Hull and Norwich man made only two 45-minute appearances in friendly action, picking up a hamstring problem.
It was hoped he would get some game time with the Under 23s over the international break, but Dyche explained his situation, and how Steven Defour has moved ahead of him in terms of his fitness: “Steven's moved in front of him from niggly things.
“He’s not had an actual setback, just missing a few days here and then.
“Steven had a setback in the summer with a calf, but since we got on top of that he's gone forward nicely and got stronger and stronger.
“The longest period Robbie has been is seven days, then a couple of days, it’s never back to square one but niggly little things.
“Robbie was a few weeks in front, now they’re more or less about the same. But they’re both active.
“Steven has been with us for about two-ish weeks, about eight sessions.
“The first two or three we were careful’l, now he’s full on. Now he's ready for his games programme.
“Robbie has been joining in the last couple of days.
“His games programme will be a step behind, maybe a week if we can get another scheduled game.”
Asked whether the Carabao League Cup time at League 1 Burton a week on Tuesday was a potential target for the pair, Dyche added: “I'll wait and see on Burton, I’ll doubt it. I don’t think these cup games are to be taken lightly, you want players fit to play, not playing to get fit.
“If I deem they were absolutely ready, then possibly.
“Games are too tough to use for that reason.”
While Defour and Brady are close to freshening up the squad, Dyche hopes his players will get back into their stride after their European exertions: “I don’t know about refreshed, there's a rhythm in how you work, this couple of weeks has been more familiar.
“With Europe, it’s games, recovery, pre-plan game, you can’t fit a debrief in sometimes, getting home at 5 am and the next day you have to recover and pre-plan.
“Because of the journeys on the second games, Southampton and Fulham, one possible change in the future could be that game becomes a night game, you get a further sleep in the afternoon, that’s not possible at 1 p.m. or 3 p.m.
“The rhythm of how we train and go about it, and the familiarly has been a case over the last two weeks.”
Dyche wonders whether the Premier League will help those in Europe in future, and look to give teams more recovery time: “I don’t think it’s that easy, it’s a Sunday game and there will be certain slots. You could consider a Monday game, a bit more recovery.
“It’s the away games I’m talking about, they’re tough. The home game is a bit more simplistic. Monday night is mainly TV but for specific games it could be the Monday.
“The afternoon gives you another window of recovery. That extra bit of recovery does count.”
While Burnley are yet to win in their opening four Premier League games, taking just a point, Dyche feels that statistics show there isn’t a lot different from this time last year when they claimed seven points: “There’s a strange stat to it, last season in the first four Premier League games we ran roughly about 200 defensive actions on average, this season 188. Defensive third 92, this season 66.
“Blocks have gone down from 36% to 28%, sometimes you hold your hands up with the margins. They’re often tight and you have to get on the right side of them.
“We’ve had two worldies scored against us as well, that’s to make sense of it, we try and adjust it then.
“There’s a psychology to it as well, it’s not just about defending, it’s about scoring, we created enough against Southampton and Watford, not enough against Fulham, and United. Sometimes the best form of defence is to attack and take your chances.”