Only three days after their chastening 5-0 defeat at Manchester City, Burnley must dust themselves down and seek to return to winning ways as they host Watford at Turf Moor this evening.
That result at the Etihad Stadium isn’t even the height of Sean Dyche’s worries, with the Clarets manager’s squad being decimated as four senior players are set to leave the club next week once their contracts expire.
Among those is first team regular Jeff Hendrick, while Aaron Lennon and Joe Hart have often been experienced substitutes to call upon if needed, but they all seem to have played their last game for the club as they were omitted from the squad for Monday’s massacre in Manchester.
Dyche must also contend with several injuries ahead of the Hornets’ visit this evening, with strikers Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes as well as winger Johann Berg Gudmundsson remaining sidelined. Robbie Brady is also an injury doubt after a scan this week revealed a minor abductor tear. [via Burnley Express]
Burnley didn’t even have the revised maximum complement of nine substitutes at the Etihad, which highlights the sparsity of options available to them at the moment. Will Dyche be able to shuffle the pack in any way for the visit of Watford? Football Transfer Tavern predicts the Clarets’ starting XI for the game at Turf Moor:
It is a welcome relief for Dyche that he still has a familiar-looking back five to call upon. Nick Pope will continue between the sticks, while the defence which started at the Etihad will probably remain for the Watford game. That would enable centre-back duo Ben Mee and James Tarkowski to preserve their ever-present status in the Premier League this season, with Charlie Taylor and Matthew Lowton taking up the full-back roles.
Dwight McNeil managed Burnley’s only shot against Manchester City and looks set to feature on the left wing, with Jack Cork and Ashley Westwood keeping their places in the centre of midfield, although the latter risks a two-match ban if he is booked this evening. Josh Brownhill made his full Clarets debut on the right flank at the Etihad and, with Dyche’s options hugely stretched, will probably retain his place in the starting XI.
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The injuries to Wood and Barnes leave Burnley needing all the firepower they can get up top, so Matej Vydra and Jay Rodriguez seem destined to again be the starting forward duo. However, the Englishman was taken off after an hour against Manchester City as a precaution and, if it turns out that he isn’t quite fit enough to feature this evening, Dyche could turn to one of his youngsters.
Max Thompson came on for his senior debut in the closing minutes on Monday night and may be in line for a surprise call-up into the first XI if either Vydra or Rodriguez is unable to start, or if the manager decides to shuffle the pack up front. However, it seems likelier that if the 18-year-old is to get another run this evening, it will be as a substitute rather than a starter.
It could well be an unchanged starting line-up for Burnley, then, which is more of a sign of Dyche’s sparsity of options than a desire to preserve the status quo.
Burnley fans, do you expect an unchanged starting XI against Watford with the squad being so thin? Join in the discussion by commenting below!
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