Sean Dyche preparing as normal for Aston Villa trip amid COVID postponements; and his thoughts on late Watford decision

Burnley are planning for their trip to Aston Villa on Saturday as normal, amid the spate of games being called off for COVID.

Sean Dyche
Sean Dyche

The Clarets, whose game at home to Watford on Wednesday night was postponed two and a half hours before kick-off due to 'ongoing cases' within the Hornets' squad, currently have one unnamed case on the playing side, and some among "peripheral" staff.

Villa themselves had an outbreak on Sunday, with positive tests for one player and a number of staff at their Bobymoor Heath training ground, and at Tuesday's game at Norwich, were without coaches Gary McAllister, Tom Culshaw and Aaron Danks int the dugout, as well as players Jed Steer, Keinan Davis, Morgan Sanson and Anwar El Ghazi.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Sean Dyche said, when asked if there were any cases at the club: "We have, among playing and staff, not immediate football staff, but peripheral staff.

"It's over the last five or six days, it's only one player, we think we got on top of the situation very quickly."

Burnley are still waiting for official reasons as to why the Premier League called the game with Watford off, with a statement merely saying: "The decision was taken following guidance from medical advisers due to an ongoing COVID-19 outbreak within Watford’s squad. As a result, the club has an insufficient number of First Team players available to fulfil the match."

And Dyche said: "It was a strange one, we didn't find out until 4-40 I think we got the call from the Premier League, we hadn't heard anything from Watford Football Club about the possible situation.

"And then it came to light that they'd had COVID cases, so the game had to be cancelled.

"It was very late notice, that's for sure."

Brentford boss Thomas Frank has called for a break to act as a circuit-breaker this weekend and for the midweek Carabao Cup ties, but as Dyche says, that wouldn't necessarily solve the issue: "Thomas' opinion is valid in some ways, but then does that not happen next week?

"Is there a golden rule that if we call this week off, next week we'll all be clear?

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"There isn't any golden rule to it.

"I get the idea of trying to break the pattern of it, and maybe re-cleanse your training grounds, which we've had to do many times, but that really is an ongoing thing.

"We've tried to make sure everything is clean and washed down throughout the pandemic.

"But I understand his point, to try and put a break in it, it's not easy though.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"Health and welfare is above everything, health and well-being, but we are waiting for the Premier League to report why the game was off, so that's all we can do, wait for the report and see what happens from there on in."

And ahead of the trip to Birmingham, Burnley will continue to observe the protocols as strictly as possible: "We'll do all the right things, make sure the staff members are tested and checked, like we do, and do all the protocols we've been advised to do.

"But even within that, teams have been doing everything, we're all aware of the spread of the virus and are all trying to do what we can do."

There remains the thorny issue of vaccination, and while Dyche - who is fully vaccinated - accepts it is up to individuals to decide what is best for them, he pondered whether the Premier League could be firmer with the science and education on the matter: "You can't have a policy because of people's freedom to choose, but you can advise - I've had all of them and would advise that's a good decision, or good thing to do.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"But you can't make people do it, it's up to them.

"What I would say is, the Premier League might say, if we're calling games off because of non-vaccination, it's been a long period for education on vaccination, so even though you can't make people do it, you can strongly advise and explain what could happen if you're not vaccinated.

"That's for scientists, not for me, to explain to players, as we have done, to reeducate. until, hopefully, the uptake is across the board."

As regards player availability, other than the unnamed COVID case, Burnley are likely to be without Maxwel Cornet, who hasn't trained this week with a thigh problem, as well as Ashley Barnes, Dale Stephens and Connor Roberts: "Barnesy is making good progress, which is good, Dale Stephens is back in, Connor continues to make good progress, but it will be slow progress because of the depth of the infection he had.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"They are all coming back in and around it.

"Maxwel is still touch and go with his thigh, so we just hope that settles down sooner rather than later going into Christmas."