Last weekend, Burnley defender Ben Mee said [via Pendle Today] that Europa League qualification was within the Clarets’ reach.
However, after Sean Dyche’s depleted side lost 5-0 at Manchester City on Monday, with a threadbare squad due to injuries and out-of-contract players not selected, the 30-year-old has found himself singing a rather more sombre tune.
With five senior players set to leave the club next Tuesday after their deals expire, Mee told Lancashire Live: “It is interesting what is going on at our club at the minute. It is a lot of games to play in a short space of time and the lads need to keep themselves fit and we don’t have a big squad at all.
“We are missing a few players and have let a few players go and I don’t know what to say about it to be honest. We have just got to work hard and grind it out and that is what we will do as a group of players.”
First team regulars Jeff Hendrick and Phil Bardsley, along with the frequently-deployed Aaron Lennon, were all absent from Burnley’s squad for the trip to the Etihad Stadium as their contracts at Turf Moor come to an end next week, with no sign of the club offering new deals.
The spate of absentees meant that Dyche wasn’t even able to name the maximum nine substitutes permitted and included several previously unseen youngsters such as Max Thompson, who was introduced in the closing minutes for his senior debut.
The Clarets have had little time to nurse their wounds from their Manchester City battering as they are back into action tomorrow when they play host to Watford, the second of nine matches in a hectic 35-day period. That is a lot to ask of any squad, never mind one like Burnley’s which has been ravaged by unfortunate circumstances of late.
Mee’s rapid mood shift from bullishly targeting European qualification to simply hoping that he and his team-mates can “grind it out” for the rest of the season reflects how difficult a week it has been for Burnley since the Premier League resumed.
Between the contract situation which drew Dyche’s ire, the hammering at the Etihad and a controversial airplane banner which was furiously condemned by Mee and the club, the mood around Turf Moor has darkened considerably in recent days.
Will Burnley finish in the top half of the Premier League this season?
Thankfully the Clarets are in no realistic danger of being sucked into a relegation battle, although they could do with a couple of positive results soon to lift spirits after a miserable few days for the Lancashire club.
Burnley fans, what did you make of Mee’s latest remarks so soon after he claimed they could qualify for Europe? Have your say by commenting below!
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