Burnley manager Sean Dyche has said that Ashley Barnes is “getting closer” to returning to first team contention after a long-term absence due to a hernia operation.
Sean Dyche told Lancashire Live: “Barnesy has made really good progress and played a bounce game the other day and looked sharp and scored a couple. We are happy with the way we have dealt with him because we feel he still needs a week’s training. It is certainly looking like he is getting closer.”
Indeed, as Dyche referenced, Barnes played for Burnley’s under-23s on Monday and scored twice. He is set to feature again for Steve Stone’s team later this week and, all going well, could return to the senior fold for the trip to St James’ Park on the first weekend of October. [via Lancashire Live]
The 30-year-old is just two games short of reaching a double century for the Clarets and had been a reliable scorer for them until his lengthy convalescence this year, having scored 12 Premier League goals in 2018/19 and six in 19 league games last term before his hernia operation.
Indeed, Barnes had been a near-constant presence in Dyche’s starting XI up to then, although the one-time Austria youth international could have a fight on his hands to get back into the team.
Even when Barnes is fit enough to return to the first team fold, Dyche could opt to keep him in reserve and stick with the Wood-Rodriguez partnership that served him so well last season.
Do you think Ashley Barnes will go straight into the starting XI when he returns?
Nonetheless, with the Clarets’ lean squad currently decimated by injuries, to have the 30-year-old on the cusp of a first team return should provide a considerable and timely lift for the Burnley boss and the club’s supporters.
Burnley fans, how huge a boost will it be to have Barnes back in the first team? Comment below with your views!
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