Clarets striker Sam Vokes is expected to be fit to face former club Brighton at Turf Moor on Sunday (kick-off 1-15 p.m.).
Vokes picked up a groin problem in the goal-less draw at Wolves a fortnight ago, and, after linking up with Wales, subsequently withdrew from the friendly with Holland last Friday.
But the 26-year-old has trained back at Gawthorpe this week, and is out to add to his three goals so far this season, against a club where he enjoyed a loan spell in 2012.
Boss Sean Dyche said: “We’re happy with Vokesey, it was a minor injury, but he’s trained well back with us, and the thinking is he’ll come back into contention for Brighton, he’ll be fine.”
Defender Ben Mee was also substituted in the second half at Molineux with a tight hamstring, and Dyche added: “He’s fine at the moment as well.”
Should Mee not be risked, Dyche has Stephen Ward available – fresh from helping the Republic of Ireland qualify for Euro 2016, beating Bosnia and Herzegovina 3-1 on aggregate, with the former Wolves man starting the first leg in Zenica.
We’re happy with Vokesey, it was a minor injury, but he’s trained well back with us, and the thinking is he’ll come back into contention for Brighton, he’ll be fineSean Dyche
Ward has only made two appearances for the Clarets so far this season, including replacing Mee last time out, and is eager for more game time.
Burnley’s back five of Tom Heaton, Mee, Michael Keane, Michael Duff and Tendayi Darikwa have started every league game this season, and Ward has had to be patient, as Dyche said: “All the players want to be playing, but we can only put 11 out there, plus the substitutes.
“All the players need to be ready, that’s the important thing, football can change so quickly.
“People think we don’t make many changes to the team, but five or six from who were playing last season have already changed for one reason or another, so when your chance comes, you have to be ready.”
Ward could be one of potentially four Clarets at the Euros, along with Vokes (Wales), Tom Heaton (England) and Danny Lafferty (Northern Ireland), and Dyche was delighted for him: “It is tremendous for Wardy and everyone concerned – it’s good for the club and for him to be involved at that level.”
Heaton, meanwhile, has returned to Gawthorpe after the experience of being with the England squad in Spain on Friday night, before Tuesday’s emotional show of solidarity with France at Wembley, after the Paris atrocities.
Dyche said: “It will have been an interesting time for him, in dire circumstances.
“But it is part of what it is, sport goes beyond what happens just on the pitch.”
Dean Marney got more game time under his belt with the Development Squad during the international break, and he is close to returning to the first team squad now: “He’s doing well, and we’re trying to get him more active-style games now.
“Players are desperate to get back after injury, and it’s about putting it all together now, not just when he thinks he’s right, but we have to make sure he’s right on all counts, physically and mentally, and Deano is showing strong signs now of coming back into where we class him as fully fit.”
The Clarets, third in the Championship, take on unbeaten Brighton, who are second, on Sunday, and Dyche is not surprised by the Seagulls’ start: “They have some very good players and I know and respect Chris Hughton – he’s done well at every club he’s been. I played under Colin Calderwood at Northampton as well, and he’s a good guy, so I don’t think it’s a surprise how they’ve started.
“They are right in it and unbeaten, but, like us, we know we are only a third of the way through the season and there is still a lot of football to be played.”