Gray has ‘strong chance’ of return

Striker Andre Gray has “a strong chance” of being fit to face Rotherham United at the New York Stadium on Friday night.

Tuesday, 29th September 2015, 8:00 am
Burnley's Andre Gray (right) celebrates scoring his sides third goal with Matthew Taylor Burnley FC v Sheffield Wednesday Sky Bet Football Championship game held at Turf Moor on the 12/09/2015 Pic by John Rushworth Football Images are covered by DataCo Licence agreements For editorial use only No Free Use permitted

The club record signing missed Burnley’s first home defeat of the season against Reading on Saturday with a hamstring problem.

Gray picked up the niggle in last Monday night’s goal-less draw at Derby County, and had been rated “touch and go” by Clarets boss Sean Dyche ahead of Saturday’s game.

But Dyche admits he was close to being involved against the Royals, and, ahead of Friday’s televised trip to the Millers, said: “I think he has a strong chance for next week.

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“There are no guarantees, but he’s got a strong chance.

“It was only minor, it was only a precaution.”

While Gray, whose pace was missed against the Royals, could come straight back into contention, midfielder Joey Barton could also be in line to start in south Yorkshire.

Barton made his Clarets debut as a second half substitute against Reading, coming on for Michael Kightly, and he helped up the tempo as Burnley looked to find a way back into the game at 2-0 down.

The former QPR man has been through an intensive mini pre-season since agreeing a one-year deal last month, but is now up to speed, and Dyche said: “He’s been working hard in training.

“His next level of fitness is to play and sharpness is to play, which is when it really comes, but he is very active in training, and we know what he is, he’s a good player – you just have to come in at the appropriate time when you are really fit.

“That will have done him the world of good though, just to get on the pitch and get a feel of the game.

“He played well when he came on.”

Another who played well, coming away with the sponsors’ man of the match champagne, was Tendayi Darikwa.

Darikwa scored his first goal for the club to halve the deficit against Reading, and his forays up and down the right flank continue to catch the eye.

Dyche is pleased with his progress following his summer move from League 1 Chesterfield: “He’s playing very well, he’s maturing into a very good player.

“We knew what we were getting, or thought we were getting – there are no guarantees – but he’s settled quickly, he’s been very effective going forward, which is something we’ve been encouraging, and he looks a good asset for us.”

Dyche was also happy with the impact of substitutes Barton, and striker Chris Long: “The subs came on and changed the feel, and that’s important, how the squad react.

“We’ve been going along nicely. I’m not over-disappointed with the performance, obviously disappointed with the outcome, but there was some good stuff, and really good signs about what we are trying to achieve and be on a weekly basis.”