Injury boost for Burnley boss?
CLARETS boss Sean Dyche is hopeful of having three key players back to face high-flying Crystal Palace at Turf Moor on Saturday.
Top-scorer Charlie Austin, Chris McCann and Martin Paterson all missed the 1-0 FA Cup defeat at Barnsley on Saturday.
But the trio could return as Burnley look to focus on the league and climb the table, having moved to within four points of sixth place with victory at Sheffield Wednesday on New Year’s Day.
McCann (hamstring) and Paterson (thigh) were both taken off as a precaution in the win at Hillsborough, a game Austin missed with a hamtring problem, but Dyche, who welcomed Dean Marney and Junior Stanislas back into the squad after injury on Saturday, hopes to have all three fit to face the Eagles.
He said of McCann and Paterson: “Hopefully they’re not serious.
“We had to make a judgement call on them.
“But we’ve got a run of Saturday-Saturday games now, so it gives everyone a chance to recover from knocks and bruises, so we’re hoping that comes round for them fairly quickly, and they’ll be injury-free pretty quickly.
“Dean Marney made it on Saturday but those two didn’t quite.
“They’re on the pathway and hopefully will be ready soon.”
Ben Mee has been out for a month with a knee injury suffered against Blackburn, but he and Austin are also close to a return: “Ben Mee is having a good finish to his rehab – I’m not sure when he’ll be back but he’s getting closer.
“Charlie’s going well also.
“The decision to play him against Leicester cost us the other week and we don’t want to go down that road again.
“The medical team and the players decided the game at Barnsley was just too quick.”
Dyche added: “We’re really positive about them being available for selection at the weekend.”
Michael Duff came off at Oakwell shortly before the hosts scored their winner, but Dyche admitted: “We got him off quickly. It’s not serious, it was more cramp than a strain.”
He was boosted by the impact of substitute Dane Richards, available for the first time after receiving international clearance for his move from Vancouver Whitecaps.
Dyche is trying to ease him into the picture: “We wanted to try to get him an introduction. We got that and he looked effervescent when he came on and stretched the pitch for us and got a little chance and affected things.
“It’s early days yet but we’ll see how it goes.
“He’s almost in the bedding in period, getting used to the change in culture and used to the team-mates and used to the play.
“We just felt it was appropriate. We felt the game needed that burst of energy down the right hand side to stretch the pitch.
“He’s shown directness and that can be a real weapon in football.
“He nearly produced it for us.
“It’s a longer journey for him, after coming into a new culture, a new country and a different way of playing, in arguably a stronger standard, so it’s early days, but we’ll see how it goes.”
Keith Treacy was sacrificed at half-time after the dismissal of Brian Stock, and Dyche admitted: “We had to make a tactical decision, we wanted to give Keith another game and increase his match fitness, but we had to find a way to make sure it was shored up, but still had a chance to break and get something.”