Burnley manager Sean Dyche has admitted that he is concerned about the size of his squad for the remainder of the Premier League season.
The Clarets boss was forced to plan without Ashley Barnes, Chris Wood and Johann Berg Gudmundsson for tonight’s trip to Manchester City and fears that a heavy schedule of fixtures after more than three months of activity could take its toll on his players.
Dyche has also had to contend with losing as many as five members of his squad next week as the club have not yet offered contract extensions to players whose deals expire at the end of June.
The 48-year-old told Lancashire Telegraph: “We’re already stretched. We’ve had to be more delicate, and we have the contract situation in the background so we can’t afford to lose too many.
“The thing that will affect us is squad size. And psychologically it’s summer, and players don’t normally play in this period, unless it’s an international tournament.
“It is a period of changing weather as well. It’s a different ball game to February or whatever. That could affect injuries, fatigue, rehydration, we’ll have to wait and see. It all has to go into the thought process.”
Dyche has every right to be alarmed by the numbers at his disposal given recent circumstances. With his team being the last to resume their Premier League campaign, tonight’s match was the first of nine that they will play in just 35 days.
Furthermore, the manager was already working with a squad of just 24 players, the joint-smallest in the top flight alongside Crystal Palace. The Clarets also have the joint-oldest squad in the league with an average age of 29.3, also tied with the Eagles for that statistic, so the intense five-week schedule could easily take its toll on players who may not be as sprightly as the notably younger squads boasted by Arsenal and Wolves. [via TransferMarkt]
It therefore should come as no surprise that Dyche was so vocal in his criticism of the club’s board for failing to address the futures of five players who, as it stands, are set to leave Turf Moor next week. These aren’t all peripheral squad members, either – Jeff Hendrick and Phil Bardsley have both started frequently in the league this season.
That Dyche could lead the joint-oldest and joint-smallest squad in the Premier League to a comfortable mid-table position, and an unlikely yet not wholly implausible chance of qualifying for Europe, is a testament to his ability to maximise the resources at his disposal.
However, his concerns about his squad being decimated are quite justified, especially with several players suffering muscle injuries since the league resumed last week (Grant Xhaka and James Milner are just two examples).
Are you worried about the size of Burnley's squad?
It is an issue which could leave Burnley extremely thin for numbers over the next few weeks and Dyche may be drafting in young talents like Lewis Richardson, Joe McGlynn, Tremaine Eastmond and Jimmy Dunne ahead of schedule.
Burnley fans, is Dyche right to be alarmed by the potential decimation of his squad over the coming weeks? Join in the discussion by commenting below!
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