Ashley Barnes’ injury opens the door for Jay Rodriguez and Matej Vydra - Burnley boss Sean Dyche

Ashley Barnes’ absence opens the door for another striker at Burnley to take the bull by the horns.

Saturday, 18th January 2020, 10:30 pm
Matej Vydra

And Sean Dyche has backed both Jay Rodriguez and Matej Vydra to be effective in the coming weeks.

Barnes is likely to be out for a month or so after undergoing hernia surgery on Friday morning, leaving Dyche with three senior strikers in Chris Wood, Rodriguez and Vydra.

Rodriguez was in line to start at Chelsea last week, after his two goals in the FA Cup against Peterborough United, but was ruled out by illness.

However, after training all week, he is back in contention.

Vydra has only made three Premier League starts since an £11m switch from Derby County in the summer of 2018, but Dyche feels he is showing signs that he can make an impact.

Much like when forced to sell Charlie Austin on the eve of the 2013/14 season, when Sam Vokes and Danny Ings grasped the nettle, Dyche said of the loss of Barnes: “He’s a player certainly we like, and factually has done very well for us here.

“But, I think the competitive nature of the squad gives someone a chance to fill that slot and do very well themselves.

“It’s something I always looked at as a player, if a slot comes available, it’s a fresh chance to give somebody a chance to do something different, so that’s the way I look at it as a manager.

“But, in balance, Barnesy has been a good performer for us, and you want as many people fit and performing as you can get.”

Rodriguez will be eager for a run of starts, having been restricted to five in the Premier League since returning to the club in the summer.

He has six goals, however, as many as Barnes, and Dyche admitted: “It’s a blow for Jay he was ill last week, because he’s been going along well, looking sharper and sharper, just getting that run, and then you miss a game.

“But he’s got over it, luckily he got over it at the weekend so he’s trained all week, and we think he’ll be fully fit and available.

“He’s come in chomping at the bit, like a recognised centre forward would, why we brought him in, to put a real challenge on.

“And Vyds is getting more and more chance to come in and play, and be part of what we’re doing.

“I think they’re good players, and they can be effective.”

Burnley will have to adapt how they play without Barnes, albeit Rodriguez offers a similar aerial threat, and Dyche noted: “I think we’re always trying to tweak how we play, it’s how much detail you can find in individual performances, and then the team performance.

“We do a lot of work on analysis to educate or re-stimulate players to do certain things.

“Jay offers something different, which he did ever so well against Villa, coming off the front line, working between the lines, and we want to encourage him to add to the group and take his chance when it comes.

“He’ll certainly be involved, and there’s a good chance he’ll be playing.”

Vydra has come off the bench in the last two games, to somewhat ironic cheers from sections of the support, having had all too few opportunities to impress.

He continues to be linked with a move away, but, with Dyche down to three strikers, is likely to get more pitch time in the coming weeks.

Dyche feels he could yet find a home at Turf Moor, much like Vokes, after a somewhat nomadic career, with Burnley the 27-year-old’s ninth club: “He’s been on the edge of things, and he’s becoming part of something.

“He’s moved around a lot, we knew that when he came here.

“We spoke to him about making it a home. When we came here, we spoke about Vokesy, he’d been around a lot of clubs and needed to grip it and make it home.

“Vyds is on the cusp of that, he sort of belongs and feels like he belongs, and he’s sort of wondering where is it at.

“Obviously we haven’t got as much referential experience and views of him as we have with Jay Rod - Jay’s been around the Premier League for a long time, Woody has now, certainly with us, and Barnesy.

“With Matej, it’s how much he’s been around, how much he can offer, but equally, how much he can add to the group, and I think he’s shown signs of that, and continues to do so.”

Much like Ben Gibson and Joe Hart, who also joined in the summer of 2018, it has been a frustrating time for Vydra, and Dyche added: “All players should want more, you want players who want to play, that’s one of the keys, and we have here.

“He’s old enough and wise enough to activate now, when we bought him in.

“Finding the chance, getting the chance, taking the’s all those things that have to be factored in as well.”