Burnley 2, Parma 0

Jay Rodriguez
Jay Rodriguez

Sean Dyche admitted his team for the first Premier League game of the season against Southampton might not mirror the one that completed pre-season with a win against Parma.

And Clarets fans will certainly hope that is the case, with James Tarkowski - the subject of intense speculation linking him with a move to Leicester City to replace Old Trafford-bound Harry Maguire - missing the game with what the club suggested was a niggle.

Burnley were without Tarkowski and Kevin Long - who has also been linked with Nottingham Forest - immediately setting the conspiracy theorists off on social media.

Whatever happens, it may well be a testing final few days of the transfer window, as Dyche looks to add to his squad, and hold onto one of his Crown Jewels in Tarkowski.

Dyche has said on Tuesday: “I will be honest, most managers myself included, normally play what you think is the team in the last one, but I think it is tight this season. The last game of pre-season might not be the team that starts against Southampton.”

He was referring to the form of his players, who have given him a number of difficult decisions to make ahead of the opener.

Nick Pope came back after missing three games with a tight groin, and one would assume he will be number one after Tom Heaton’s departure - but the manager has been pleased with Joe Hart’s contribution in pre-season.

Ben Gibson had also missed the last three games, but came in to start alongside Ben Mee, who, wearing the armband after Heaton’s sale, started on the left of the pair.

Up front is another area of debate. Whether Dyche will pair two of Chris Wood, Ashley Barnes and Jay Rodriguez, or find room for either Barnes or Rodriguez in a wider role?

Rodriguez partnered Wood against Parma, and the pair looked to combine early on, as Wood almost teed up Rodriguez, but keeper Luigi Sepe gathered well from the Kiwi’s cutback.

But Parma looked lively, and Pope had to save from Yann Karamoh after Burnley had difficulty clearing a corner, before Dejan Kulusevski forced a stop from Pope.

Roberto Inglese struck a sweet effort just wide from 25 yards, and then headed against the underside of the bar from Gaston Brugman’s corner.

Burnley responded, and from Charlie Taylor’s cross, Wood’s flick hit Kastriot Dermaku - the striker wanting a penalty for handball, with the referee unmoved.

Wood then lifted a volley over from Matt Lowton’s clip over the top, after lovely composed play from Pope with the ball at his feet in his own area.

Pope has to be quick to come out to save from Juraj Kucka one on one, before Burnley took no risks before half-time, replacing both Robbie Brady and Jack Cork, who required treatment, with Dwight McNeil and Ashley Westwood.

Barnes came on for Wood, who couldn’t add to his nine pre-season goals, at the break, but Parma again went close through an Inglese shot, which swerved late, Pope beating it away.

However, the Clarets went ahead when Westwood hung the ball up for Barnes, it came off veteran Bruno Alves and dropped to Aaron Lennon, who burst into the box, and his deflected cross led to a simple header for Rodriguez.

Rodriguez doubled the advantage moments later, doing well to glanced a header inside the far post from Lowton’s centre.

Substitute Mattia Sprocati dragged a shot wide after a quick Parma break, and after a spate of substitutions, Nahki Wells forced a save with a shot from the edge of the area, while Pope got across to his right to save well from former Cardiff striker Andreas Cornelius, as Burnley preserved their clean sheet.

Burnley: Pope; Lowton (Bardsley 72), Gibson (Dunne 66), Mee, Taylor (Pieters 66); Lennon (Gudmundsson 66), Cork (Westwood 40), Hendrick (Benson 72), Brady (McNeil 34); Rodriguez (Wells 72), Wood (Barnes 46).

Subs: Hart, Legzdins, Vydra.