AS one window closes, another one has opened for Clarets boss Sean Dyche.
After keeping hold of leading scorer Charlie Austin, without so much as a whisper from the striker’s reported suitors during January’s transfer window, Dyche may turn his attentions to the loan market to further enhance his side’s play-off prospects.
Retaining the services of the club’s prized asset was clearly Dyche’s main intention last month with Celtic and Real Mallorca sniffing around the 24-goal hitman. Now, with that objective successful, Dyche can monitor the situations of potential targets as the loan window opens today.
“We’re always looking, we’re always monitoring what’s going on out there,” he said. “The right player, right time, right finance all have to be taken in to consideration and it’s down to our club and the club that holds the player so all those things have got to fall in to place for anyone to sign and to make things happen. We want somebody who will strengthen us and not a player who will just add to us. We want a player that will affect what we’re doing in a positive sense.
“We’re just keeping ourselves open and monitoring situations with pending injuries, suspensions. You’ve always got to keep your eye on that. The main attribute is someone who can strengthen the team; that’s the main object of a loan, other than having to do it out of necessity, to strengthen the group.”
Though keeping his cards close to his chest, Dyche may be forced to act sooner rather than later with several squad members still occupying the medical table. Defender Michael Duff is still struggling after limping off at London Road last weekend, Ben Mee remains sidelined with the knee injury sustained against Blackburn Rovers, Austin is returning to full fitness following a hamstring problem while Kevin Long and Ross Wallace have picked up minor knocks.
“We’ll have to wait on Duffo,” said Dyche. “He’s had a scan so we’re awaiting clearance on that. Whether or not he’ll make it for Saturday is in the balance; we’re probably thinking not but we’ll have to see. Ben Mee is slightly further back but is coming along nicely. He had a slight reaction seven or eight days ago but that’s settled now so he’ll be building up again next week.
“Obviously Charlie played last week and got 70 minutes and came through that fine. Kevin Long had a minor knock on his ankle last week but he should be fine and has trained. Ross Wallace picked up a knock so we’ll wait and see how that settles down to see if he’ll be considered for the weekend. We’re just hoping everyone else stays fit and well now.”
Meanwhile, the Burnley boss admits he was flattered with the speculation linking him with the vacant post at the City Ground. But Dyche, who progressed through Forest’s youth ranks while assistant Ian Woan made over 200 appearances for the club, insists the rumours were well wide of the mark as former boss Billy Davies is expected to be announced as Alex McLeish’s successor.
“I didn’t see the link but I had a number of people phone me,” he said. “It’s one of them things and completely out of my hands. I think the press sometimes link things that they feel are appropriate, not always the club. It’s part of the territory. It’s nice in the sense that it’s a big club and a club I had a brief history with many years ago. Obviously my assistant had a very good history with them for 10 years but that’s all it is.”
Dyche was buoyed by the character and endeavour shown by his side to battle back for a point against Peterborough United and he’s hopeful of a similar showing when the Clarets travel to the Reebok Stadium tomorrow for the local derby with Bolton Wanderers.
“We’ve had a couple on international duty and a couple of knocks we’ve got to monitor but hopefully we’ll get everyone in tact and be ready for Saturday,” Dyche said. “Obviously the club had a couple of good results in local derbies before we arrived here and then we had a great result in the sense of trying to correct recent history against Blackburn. We hadn’t got anything in six league games against them so it was a great point and we delivered a very good performance. We probably deserved more.
“It’s all about those performance levels and they’ve been decent since we’ve been here. The players have been delivering a good standard and we’ve had some reward for that. A couple of games have got away from us due to factors out of our hands, with decisions going against us, so we just have to focus on our performance level. They’ve been good so it bodes well.”
He added: “Results like the one last week can happen in the Championship, it’s a tough league. It’s not a major disappointment, it’s more the reality of the division. You’ve got to play hard and you’ve got to play for 90 minutes. We’ve done that in general and last week was another part of the learning curve as a group.
“Overall the squad is developing that mentality now of never say never, we keep going and that’s been quite evident with the way the players have been performing. It showed again on Saturday and barring a superb save from the keeper we could’ve nicked all three points. There’s still positives that came out of the Peterborough game and that’s what we’ll look at to build for what comes next.”
Both Sam Vokes and Danny Lafferty had successful international outings midweek with the former scoring what proved to be the winning goal in a 2-1 triumph over Austria in his 25th cap for Wales while the latter helped his Northern Ireland team-mates to a clean sheet in the stalemate with Malta.
Dyche said: “The experience will benefit both lads. Vokes has nicked himself an international goal which is great. He’s looked sharp for us and his fitness has come back so he’s doing nicely for us as well. That bodes well for his confidence and it bodes well for what we’re trying to do here.”
And Dyche is brimming with excitement as the competition heats up among the ‘strikers’ union’ at Turf Moor. Austin, who aggravated a hamstring strain in the defeat to Leicester City in December, forcing him to watch from the sidelines for five games, wasted no time in getting back on the goal trail, scoring his 24th of the campaign after just 67 seconds at London Road last weekend.
His replacement, Martin Paterson, also put recent injury woes aside to net the equaliser against the Posh in the 86th minute - his first goal since the win over Wolves at Turf Moor at the beginning of November.
“It was great to see Charlie back on the scoresheet He’s been out for four weeks and a week or maybe 10 days you can carry but four weeks affects your match fitness and your match sharpness. But he’s got his name on the scoresheet again, I like that bit!
“It was equally good to see Pato nick a goal. Pato has been deserving of one and I’m pleased it fell for him. I think all strikers thrive on scoring, when he was walking on I said go and sniff a goal out and he did.
“He works hard and came on and affected the game and ran off the shoulder and has been really bright. I’m really pleased for his goal. He can make up three or four yards, he’s in the right place at the right time, active in the box which all good strikers are and that’s his game, we know he can do it.
“Sometimes you question yourself and have doubts but he’s been working ever so hard, coming back from a slight injury and looking sharper in training, so I’m really pleased for him.”