Sean Dyche on compensating for the loss of Chris Wood

Two days before the start of the 2013-14 season, Sean Dyche was forced to plan without his top scorer Charlie Austin.

By Chris Boden
Tuesday, 18th January 2022, 7:00 am
Danny Ings and Sam Vokes
Danny Ings and Sam Vokes

Austin had to be sold to balance the books, joining QPR after hitting 28 goals in 40 games the previous season.

Dyche backed the strikers already at the club, Sam Vokes and Danny Ings, to fill the void, and they did in style, netting 41 league goals betwee them as Burnley won promotion to the Premier League as Championship runners-up, with QPR following them via the play-offs.

Fast forward eight years or so, and Burnley find themselves having had to sell last season's top scorer Chris Wood, with Newcastle triggering a £25m release clause in his contract.

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And while Dyche and the club know they need to bring bodies into an already stretched squad, in the meantime opportunity knocks.

Jay Rodriguez is currently the club's only fully fit striker, with Matej Vydra battling on amid the need for a hernia operation, while Ashley Barnes is closing on a return after over two months out with a thigh problem.

And Dyche said: "It's not the perfect scenario, but it is what it is.

"I do believe in people having the chance, and Woody has been one of the mainstays, but now he's gone, it opens up the next window.

"We do want people to take on that challenge, and down the years I've believed in the players to do that, and I still believe in the players we've got here to take the challenge on.

"Vyds was meant to have a hernia operation and couldn't because he had Covid, so that's got to be replanned and he's trying to soldier on, training and trying to make sure he's okay.

"It's his fitness and how long he can prolong that, but he will probably have to get that op done.

"Barnesy is going along well, but we knew when it happened it would be weeks, I did think it would be a longer period and that's proved to be the case.

"He's making some headway now but needs real training with us, games and stuff like that because it's been a long time.

"Jay is a great servant to what it is, a fantastic pro, and we do believe in Jay.

"He's been very unlucky this season with injuries and the timing of them, because he'd have played more football.

"We are at stretch, and Maxwel is away as well, he's played more like a 10, but he's been scoring for us."

Dyche has lost several key men down the years, that he would rather have kept - Kieran Trippier, Michael Keane, Austin, Danny Ings, Andre Gray and so on, but the squad has evolved over time to compensate, and he added: “I always believe in what we do here. I’ve had many challenges down the years - Andre Gray, Vokesy, Charlie Austin, he went two days before the season started, Ingsy. Some very good players have left the building.

“In a different way, Keano when he left and people like that, Tripps, people like that.

“The secret is the group. It’s about the whole collective, it’s not just about waiting for one player to stand up. I share that with them all the time.

“I still believe in the group.”