Clarets to make late check on Arfield ahead of big clash
Clarets boss Sean Dyche will make a late check on midfielder Scott Arfield's fitness ahead of Saturday's televised top of the table trip to Brighton (kick-off 12-30 p.m.).
Arfield arrived back at Gawthorpe nursing a slight back strain, having made his Canada debut as a second half substitute against Mexico in Vancouver last weekend.
He flew home early, missing the return with Mexico at the Azteca Stadium, and physio Ally Beattie will check out the 27-year-old – who has started every league game so far this season.
Dyche said: “Scotty has a bit of a niggle, and had to come back early, which was a bit of a shame, but we’ll check him out and see how it settles down.
“To be fair to Canada, their people made an early call, they probably didn’t want anyone who couldn’t play or perform, so he came back.”
Burnley’s other internationals returned unscathed.
Meanwhile, Dyche revealed Ashley Barnes could come back into contention after completing a third 90 minutes in the behind-closed-doors goal-less draw at West Brom on Tuesday.
Dyche said: “Barnesy is certainly putting a shift in physically, and he is getting his eye back in.
“He is certainly in our thoughts, maybe not immediately, but we will see how he goes.
“But it is great for him to get another 90 minutes under his belt.”
That leaves only Lukas Jutkiewicz and Chris Long unavailable through injury, though Jutkiewicz is reaching the end of his long road back from a cruciate knee ligament problem.
Dyche explained: “Jukes wasn’t ready for the game on Tuesday, but we are monitoring him, and he is in full training, which is great to see.”
Matt Gilks, Dean Marney, James Tarkowski, Tendayi Darikwa, Michael Duff, Matt Taylor, Lloyd Dyer, Michael Kightly and Fredrik Ulvestad all had game time at the Baggies, keeping them ticking over, and Dyche said: “We wanted to make sure everyone was up to speed after the international break, those that have been on the edge of the side – it is an important run of games now and if things change, everyone needs to be ready to go.”
While people will label Saturday’s game as a six-pointer, with the Clarets four points clear of the Seagulls at the top of the Championship, Dyche places no extra importance on any one match: “They are all important three points, no matter how they come and who they come against.
“The idea is to get more than everyone else – the next game is always the focus.
“There are similarities between us and Brighton, I know Chris (Hughton) and Colin (Calderwood) pretty well and they like their players to work, and they have built a unit, rather than individuals, and they are having a very good season.
“They’ve gone under the radar a bit, as we have until recently, and we know it will be another big challenge.
“They have spent a few quid on (Anthony) Knockaert and players from distant shores, but they are a big club – even during their hard times they still had a real hard core.
“They have moulded a club that can move forward.”