Burnley boss Sean Dyche says that it will take time for Jeff Hendrick to adapt to the subtleties of a different role in midfield.
The Republic of Ireland international had been paired in a partnership with Joey Barton for the majority of his first campaign with the Clarets, operating in a 4-4-2, up until the former Manchester City middle man’s ban was imposed by the FA.
But it’s been all change for the club’s third Premier League campaign under Sean Dyche with the 26-year-old functioning in a more advanced role, acting as a number 10, with Jack Cork and Steven Defour banking in behind.
The Belgium international’s knee troubles, which have ruled him out for the remainder of the season, has brought further transformation, with Hendrick reverting back to his original role for the previous two games against Manchester City and Swansea City.
However, the Clarets chief feels the one-time Ram will keep evolving when called upon to work between the lines in a 4-4-1-1. “He’s played a lot of football in this midfield don’t forget,” said Dyche.
“Last season he played more as a two. There were very good signs against Man United of how to find the pockets of space.
“It does take time when you’re operating a different role and the subtleties of it. I think tactics can be over-egged nowadays but there are still subtle changes to how you’d view a 4-4-2 now.
“It’s not a 4-4-2 how you’d just write it on a piece of paper, there’s a lot more fluidity to that. And that’s often the case now.
“I think tactical shapes get a lot of airplay when sometimes actually it’s a lot more simplistic.
“It’s a yard here, five yards there, how out of possession changes to in possession. That sort of thing.
“Although I understand it all, I’m probably less into these myths of tactics – this manager got it right, this manager didn’t and all that sort of stuff.”
He added: “You can have a defensive number 10, you can have a number 10 who’s a creator.
“You can have a number 10 who’s in there to sit on their deep lying midfielder, which a lot have now, or to break off their deep-lying midfielder into the pockets.
“So there’s many different ways of playing it.
“He is more of a running number 10, he’ll join in, back up the play, recover when he needs to, rather than a technical number 10.
“We know there’s many of them around the world who more or less wait in the slot and you’ve got to get the ball to them.
“Jeff will go and work for the ball.
“But he is learning it better.
“And that is part of what we do, it is adapt players to roles that we think are needed for the team.”