Defender Gibson’s return to Middlesbrough ‘best for everyone’: Burnley boss Sean Dyche

Sean Dyche believes Burnley have tried to make the best of a “unique situation” by allowing Ben Gibson to train with former club Middlesbrough.

Thursday, 13th February 2020, 2:00 pm
BURNLEY, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 26: Burnley player Ben Gibson in action during the Premier League match between Burnley FC and Everton FC at Turf Moor on December 26, 2018 in Burnley, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Gibson, signed from Boro for a joint club record £15m in the summer of 2018, has only made six appearances for the Clarets, including one Premier League start.

And the 27-year-old was frustrated at the failure to secure a move before the transfer deadline a fortnight ago, with Premier League rivals Watford having three offers turned down for the player.

Gibson remains contracted to the club until 2022, but the decision has been made to allow him to ‘go home’ and train with Boro.

A club statement released on Wednesday night said: “Burnley Football Club can confirm they have given Ben Gibson permission to train with Middlesbrough Football Club.

“The defender made it clear, in the weeks leading up to the end of the January transfer window, that he wanted to leave Turf Moor to seek regular first team football.

“Unfortunately for the player, the club did not receive an offer it felt was acceptable and he remains contracted to the club.”

Dyche said yesterday morning: “It’s a pretty unique situation and we’ve tried to do the best we can for everyone.

“Certainly things needed to be ironed out with the player, and a decision was made.

“We came to an agreement that he could train with Middlesbrough.”

It remains to be seen whether Gibson - who cannot play for Boro’s first team - will get game time with their Under 23s, but a permanent summer departure is seemingly inevitable.

Meanwhile, as Burnley prepare for Saturday’s 12-30 p.m. kick-off at Southampton, Johann Berg Gudmundsson could return to the squad.

However, Ashley Barnes remains on the road to recovery after his hernia operation, and there are doubts over both full backs Matt Lowton and Charlie Taylor.

Dyche said: “Because he’d had a couple of niggles around the same site, we had to be careful with Johann, but he’s had a full week training with us, after last week, when his training was modified.

“But he’s training normally now with us.

“Barnesy is making good progress, he’s back on the grass tentatively.

“But we have a bit of a doubt with Matt Lowton, he took a heavy knock to his knee and there was a lot of swelling early this week.

“And Charlie Taylor had a bit of a tight hamstring, so we’re waiting on more news on those two.

“There’s a more positive view on Chas, but we’ll wait and see.”

The Clarets take on a Southampton side transformed after their 9-0 home defeat to Leicester City in October, winning seven of their next 15 Premier League games to climb away from relegation trouble.

Much like Burnley bottomed out after their 5-1 defeat at home to Everton on Boxing Day 2018, before climbing away from the drop zone,

Dyche noted: “They almost had to take stock. In a strange way, it was a back handed positive, and from the outside looking in, there’s definitely been a physical response - there’s more urgency to their play on the eye, I don’t know about the stats.

“But they seem to be running hard and getting the ball forward quicker in more of a 4-4-2 - that seems to be the basic principle of how they’ve changed.

“So we’ll certainly have to be ready for their work ethic.”

Key to their rise has been the form of former Clarets striker Danny Ings, who, after two serious knee injuries scuppered his chances of making a significant impact at Liverpool, has hit 14 Premier League goals this season, only bettered by Jamie Vardy and Sergio Aguero.

He is believed to be on the radar for an England call-up, having reportedly been the subject of an enquiry from Manchester United before the deadline.

Dyche is pleased to see him back to his best: “Ingsy has had a run of fitness, and that’s good for him.“He was unfortunate in his time at Liverpool, but he’s now having a run of true fitness, and with that comes true form.”

Dyche is always proud to see former players progress, and he added: “Part of our ethos is obviously wanting to win as many games as we can, but behind that is development.

“And the part we played in his development was substantial, guiding him to where he needed to go - the staff, and the medical side.

“We gave him a good base, and he’s since had different ways of working at Liverpool and Southampton, and there’s a natural maturation as well.”