Burnley have been dealt a major injury blow with the news that Ben Mee could miss the rest of the season – a turn of events which should present an opportunity for Kevin Long to prove his worth at Turf Moor.
As per Lancashire Live, the Clarets skipper was ruled out of yesterday’s clash against Sheffield United due to a thigh strain that now looks likely to keep him sidelined for the rest of the month, therefore ending his involvement in 2019/20.
Mee had played every minute of Burnley’s Premier League campaign prior to this weekend, which shows how much Sean Dyche trusts in him, and he had been one of his team’s most important components. As per WhoScored, only centre-back partner James Tarkowski had won more aerial duels for the Clarets this season, while just two players had averaged more interceptions per game.
Aside from his defensive strengths, the 30-year-old also came in very useful at the other end of the pitch when netting the decisive goal in the win at Crystal Palace last week.
In Mee’s absence against the Blades, Dyche turned to Long, who had only played two minutes of the league campaign prior to lockdown and 22 minutes before yesterday’s match (as per TransferMarkt). The 13-cap Republic of Ireland international acquitted himself well at Turf Moor, making eight clearances and winning five duels in the 1-1 draw.
However, his performance metrics compared to Mee’s over the course of the season still show how difficult it will be to cover for the Burnley captain. The skipper has won far more aerial duels per game (4.1 to 1.7) than the 29-year-old while also averaging more tackles (1.3 to 0.7) and interceptions (1.3 to 0.3) per game, as per WhoScored.
With Mee and Tarkowski unshakable as Burnley’s first-choice centre-back partnership, Long has had to be very patient in awaiting his chance at Turf Moor this season.
Do you think Kevin Long is a dependable alternative for Ben Mee?
He has now been given the opportunity to make his case to Dyche over the coming weeks and strong defensive performances like the one he gave against Sheffield United should help his cause. However, he needs to make these next five matches count if he is to have any realistic chance of breaking up the Mee-Tarkowski double act in the 2020/21 season.
Burnley fans, how big a blow is it to have Mee injured for the rest of the season? Share your views in the comments section below!
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