Striker Barnes closing in on a return to first team squad

Striker Ashley Barnes could be available for selection in time to return to former club Brighton in a fortnight.

Thursday, 17th March 2016, 3:24 pm
Burnley's Ashley Barnes vies for possession with Stoke City's Erik Pieters Photographer Chris Vaughan/CameraSport Football - Barclays Premiership - Burnley v Stoke City - Saturday 16th May 2015 - Turf Moor - Burnley © CameraSport - 43 Linden Ave. Countesthorpe. Leicester. England. LE8 5PG - Tel: +44 (0) 116 277 4147 - [email protected] -

Clarets boss Sean Dyche is loathe to put a timeframe on players’ recovery periods after injury, but admits Barnes could be close after the international break, having come through his third game, and first 90 minutes, this week, after suffering cruciate and medial knee ligament problems in the last game of last season.

Fellow frontman Lukas Jutkiewicz is also on the brink of returning to full training with the squad, but it is not all good news on the striking front, with Chris Long picking up a hamstring strain in the Development Squad’s 2-1 defeat against Rochdale on Tuesday at Gawthorpe.

Barnes has now come through 45 minutes against Preston behind closed doors, and 75 minutes against Georgetown University last week, before playing the full game against Dale, and Dyche said: “We’re really pleased with Ash, he’s worked ever so hard. There’s another development game coming up, he needs another 90 minutes and then he’s getting closer.

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“Then there’s the international break, so he’ll work hard during that, and after that, we’ll get him another 90 minutes and he will more or less become available for selection.

“Ash isn’t completely fit yet, he needs more than one 90, and Juke is a step behind, but it is great to see them getting there, it’s promising,

“We’ll see how they go as to whether they are both ready before the end of the season.

“Juke is on the cusp of joining in regular training. He’s not ready for game time yet, he will have a period of just training.

“It’s massive news, particularly for Ash, who is a step in front, and Juke will make that step forward soon.

“Sam Vokes is a great example to both of them - they just need to look at him, he’s flying.”

Long will be monitored after his niggle: “Chris Long unfortunately picked up a hamstring, so we will be on top of that over the next few days, but there are no other niggles, and Gillo (Matt Gilks) got through a game as well.”

As did Dean Marney, who played 90 minutes after half an hour as a substitute at Fulham last Tuesday: “It was important for Deano to get 90 minutes, he’d had a bit of a game at Fulham with the first team last week, but I just felt I wanted him to have that 90, so he was free and easy, and he’s come through that fine.”

Meanwhile, Burnley go in search of a seventh-successive win at home to Wolves on Saturday.

Wolves’ last visit to Turf Moor was Dyche’s first game in charge of the Clarets in November 2012, and Dyche said: “It’s that strange balance - it seems like it wasn’t that long ago, but also seems like forever. It’s been three and a half years and there’s been some strange twists of fate for both clubs.

“I know Kenny Jackett, he’s done a good job there. He’s lost a couple of important players and I know he’s spoken about reverting to a younger group.

“But it’s like everyone in the division, you can’t be overthinking it, you have to be be aware and understand what the job is, and we are doing that at the moment.”

Burnley have only dropped two points in their last nine home games, and only conceded once, and he added: “We’ve been strong at home more or less since I’ve been at the club, although the Premier League was a different challenge.

“We like playing at home.

“We have that good support base home and away, and at home we have had that patience - the crowd let the players play. If we get a knock, they stick behind us, and that clarity is really important, particularly at this time of year.”