Nick Pope "touch and go" and Dwight McNeil doubtful for Burnley's trip to Old Trafford to face Manchester United, plus Ashley Barnes update

Sean Dyche will make a late judgement call on England keeper Nick Pope's fitness ahead of Burnley's trip to Old Trafford.

By Chris Boden
Friday, 16th April 2021, 2:17 pm
Updated Friday, 16th April 2021, 2:54 pm
Nick Pope receives treatment
Nick Pope receives treatment

And winger Dwight McNeil is doubtful with a knock picked up in training.

Pope missed last Sunday's 2-1 defeat at home to Newcastle United with a shoulder complaint, and though he has trained this week, Dyche admits he is not certain to return at the Theatre of Dreams.

Bailey Peacock-Farrell came in for his home Premier League debut, and could start again at United.

Dyche said: "Popey is touch and go.

"We will have a call on that one. He has made good progress this week.

"Popey has had a decent day with Billy (Mercer) regards handling and getting himself working again but we will have to make a call on that tomorrow because we have had so many injuries and we can't people throw people into the games for the sake of it."

Dyche is renowned for wanting his players to be 100% ready to return, rather than playing themselves back to fitness, and he added: "We have to protect them and make sure that they are fitter for a longer period rather than just one game.

"It is a case of being careful and learning on what we are trying to achieve here with players returning to fitness and it hasn't been that great for us over the season for many different reasons.

"So we are trying to learn, find a way of getting them fit and staying fit rather than some of the re-injuries we have had."

Dyche is hopeful McNeil will shake off the unspecified problem suffered on Wednesday this week, but Jay Rodriguez will return to the squad after the birth of his baby daughter: "The ones who have been missing will still be missing, Longy, Robbie Brady, Barnesy...

"Beyond that, Dwighty (McNeil) has got a knock, so we'll see on him.

"So not as good as we'd hoped, but we'll keep on working with the players and see how quickly they can recover.

"Jay Rod, everything is fine with his little one, so he'll be okay."

Barnes has been out for two months with a thigh problem, and Dyche explained: "It's a strange one, he was actually playing with it, but it's sore one, and because he was playing with it, we didn't really understand how damaged it was, and when he had a scan on it, it was quite a big tear, so it's a longer period of recovery.

"He's had a couple of minor setbacks along the way, so he's been very unfortunate, and that's sometimes how it hits players over a career - Robbie Brady has been unfortunate, Johann has had his fair share.

"They are diligent pros who look after themselves, but sometimes your body is not quite in the balance it needs to be to stay strong."

But while he is wary of making predictions, given his fortune with injuries this season, he is hopeful Barnes will return at some stage before the summer: "He's a strong character, so I'm pretty sure he'll come through it. He looks more alive in himself at the moment, he's just getting involved with us, not training fully, just getting around the group, and that will do him and us good.

"I hope so (he'll play again this season), I wouldn't put a timescale on anything at the minute, because every time I have done this season, it's kicked me in the rear!

"There have been so many times this season I thought we'll be back to just about a full compliment next week, and then we're not and we've got another five injuries...

"I was hoping after the last three weeks of the break, I was very confident we'd have more or less everyone back, and, of course, we haven't.

"We've got more injuries again.

"It's been one of those, a real head scratcher, and a real challenge, no two ways about it."