It’s fair to say that life has been tough for Sean Dyche’s Clarets this season.
Just two victories have been plundered from the opening 11 games and the odds of matching last season’s seventh placed finish and returning to Europe already look pretty slim.
While all is not lost yet – and the manager deserves our time, patience and trust to plot his way out of trouble – the side could well benefit from the injection of some fresh legs in the January transfer window. If they were to go shopping – and the mid-season window is notorious for being bad value for money – who should the club look at?
Given the clubs recent record, you’d certainly think that they’ll be keeping a close eye on the Championship’s top talent, ready to snap up the next batch of players who are ready to make the step up to football’s top tier. So, who fits the bill?
Here are five Championship stars that Burnley might want to look at, whether in January or for the longer term.
Dyche’s bid to grow and evolve his squad has not been helped by injuries to £15 million summer signing Ben Gibson. With goals being shipped at an alarming rate – and injury striking down James Tarkowski too – a defender might well be the obvious starting point.
And, if we’re talking about Championship defenders at the moment then Liam Cooper certainly deserves a mention. The Scottish centre half has helped to provide a solid foundation for Marcelo Bielsa’s promotion-challenging Leeds United side and is the Elland Road club’s unsung lynchpin.
Just the sort of character Dyche and his staff would love to work with. At 27, he’s pretty much at his peak and more than earned a shot at the top flight having started off at hometown club Hull City but dropping down to Chesterfield before earning a move to Leeds, where he’s now captain.
He’s contracted with Leeds until 2021 and might prove expensive, but he’d guarantee solidity.
Another defender who has caught the eye in the second tier this season is Norwich City’s Swiss centre half Timm Klose. The 30-year-old has been a strong presence for Daniel Farke’s men and has helped to propel the Canaries to the top of the table, weighing in with some vital goals for the cause in the process.
Klose’s contract is up in the summer and while time might not be on his side, he might well have a couple of years of top flight football left in the tank and be welcome competition
in Dyche’s injury-hit defensive ranks.
Jack Grealish might hog the headlines for Aston Villa but his Irish international team mate Conor Hourihane shouldn’t be overlooked. Goalscoring midfielders are worth their weight in gold and the 27-year-old proved his eye for goal by netting 11 times last season as Villa narrowly missed out on a return to the Premier League.
This time around the set piece specialist already has five assists to his name and he often provides the substance to Villa’s attacking play to complement the style of Grealish. Villa might be reluctant to part with the ex Barnsley man but they’ll know that failure to earn promotion this season will force them to cut costs and that might mean taking tough choices on
assets such as Hourihane.
No-one is in hotter form in the Championship this season than Neal Maupay. Brentford’s French forward tops both the scoring and assist-making charts, with 11 goals and six assists to his name already this campaign.
Maupay is a natural finisher and instinctive penalty box poacher and is the figurehead of a Bees side that defies expectations on a regular basis. At 22 has the potential to get even better. If Dyche wants firepower he should look no further than Maupay.
Dyche has spoken in recent weeks about the fact that his side isn’t quite coming out on top in tight situations. If he’s after an explosive attacking talent to break the deadlock or helping to rescue a game, then West Brom’s Matt Phillips surely fits the bill.
The 27-year-old can play on either flank, as well as through the middle, is a good dribbler and can whip in dangerous crosses. It was something of a surprise that no-one snapped him up after the Baggies’ relegation from the Premier League and, while he’s a key fixture in Darren Moore’s free-scoring title contenders, Phillips might well be tempted by an early return to the top flight.