Danny Drinkwater back in the thinking as Burnley boss Sean Dyche ponders suspended Ashley Westwood’s replacement
Sean Dyche admits Danny Drinkwater is in his thinking as he ponders how to replace the suspended Ashley Westwood against Crystal Palace.
Westwood picked up his fifth booking in the 3-0 win at Watford, and will miss his first Premier League game of the season - and first since February - as a result.
Dyche could shift Jeff Hendrick inside and play Robbie Brady or Aaron Lennon on the right, or drop Drinkwater in for his first taste of Premier League football since arriving on loan from Chelsea on deadline day.
Drinkwater has only started one game, in the Carabao Cup exit to Sunderland, before suffered an ankle injury in an attack outside a nightclub in Manchester at the end of August.
He has since played two 90 minutes for the Under 23s and a young side behind closed doors last week, and Dyche said: “He's getting fitter. He's had a number of reserve games, which was important, because he hasn't played that much football, and his sharpness is improving so he's certainly in the mix of thinking.
“He was last week, he travelled with us, so he'll certainly come into the thinking.
“I think he's getting to as a close as you can get.
“We all know there's nothing like the real thing. You get players to a level, they get themselves to a level of course by taking on the work. His training levels have improved and I think he's feeling better.”
As regards his midfield options, Dyche is happy he has a few things to mull over, due to the strength of his squad: “They are the dilemmas you end up wanting. We were at a stage last season where we didn't aways have that.
“We were as stretched as we have been since I have been here as manager with choices because we had so many injuries. Now we have approaching a fully fit squad.”
Dyche will be without Johann Berg Gudmundsson again, as he recovers from a hamstring problem, but Matej Vydra is fit again: “Johann is a bit more long term but is making good progress, Vyds is back fit. You want those dilemmas, whether it is starting or off the bench because we believe in everyone here and everyone plays a part.
“Johann is back on the grass and working with the physios but he is not with us yet. He is building up his power and sharpness and that is the final bit to come.”
Drinkwater is on loan until January 6th, so is running out of time to make an impression, but Dyche hasn’t made his mind up on whether he will extend his stay or not yet: “We haven't really seen him. Of course we know what he does in training, we've seen that, but it's the games, everyone gets judged on the games.
“It’s too early to worry about that, we want to see him fit first, get on the pitch at some point and then take it from there.
“I've spoken about the bigger picture to him because he's desperate to play.
“Working hard, trying to get back fit. An incident that can happen and then you've got to recover from that. But it's the bigger picture.
“We're not going to push someone who's not quite there, we're not going to force anything upon them, I wouldn't with anyone here, whether they're on loan or one of my players who’s under contract here.
“I think it's a case of appropriate timing , when he's ready, and of course displacing someone else, because we like the midfield players we've got here. He knows it's a challenge, he knew it when he came here.”