Fitness levels are up to speed despite Hannover 96 abandonment

Clarets boss Sean Dyche is happy with his players' fitness ahead of the opening weekend of the Premier League, despite the abandonment of their final pre-season game.

Tuesday, 8th August 2017, 1:30 pm
Updated Monday, 11th September 2017, 12:32 pm
Andre Gray looks for a way around Salif Sane. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard

Burnley’s Turf Moor friendly against newly-promoted Hannover 96 was called off at half-time on Saturday, after a disturbance caused by visiting supporters left a police officer and two stewards requiring treatment for injuries.

The Clarets led 1-0 at the break thanks to a Ben Mee header from Robbie Brady’s free kick, but the trouble hit Dyche’s plan to give his players more game time ahead of the trip to champions Chelsea on Saturday.

He said: “The team wasn’t necessarily the team (that will start at Chelsea), but we needed key players to get some more minutes, that way we would have everyone fully match fit. That was a blow on that score.

Ben Mee celebrates his goal with Scott Arfield. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard

“This was the finish of the main pre-season plan, so if we can rustle (another game) up, we may do, but the players’ general fitness is good.

“It would have topped up the schedule of who played what, to make sure the whole group had a similar amount of minutes in total.

“We’ve got a really competitive group, so we wanted to get them all to the level we needed.

“Often you get to the end of pre-season and three or four have missed out and are behind the curve, so this was our last chance to get everyone there, and it’s unfortunate.

Matt Lowton comes under pressure. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard

“Generally the squad is more or less there, it would have been good, some would have played 90, some 60, but we support the police advice.”

Dyche added: “It’s not anything that’s to devastating, the fitness levels are good.

“Real, true match fitness isn’t gained until into the season anyway.

“Friendlies, whatever way you look at them, are friendlies, players and fans know they are, so there is never quite that same level of intensity, even on the stats, most pre-season games are lower than in the real thing.

Ben Mee celebrates his goal with Scott Arfield. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard

“We know some of the fitness comes once the season gets underway, but the idea is to get them as fit and ready before the first match as you can, and we’re pretty much there.

“The second half is when the fatigue element kicks in and real fitness comes from, the end of the game, the last 10 or 15 minutes, that’s what we were looking for, to top up their fitness.”

Matt Lowton comes under pressure. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard