Burnley will have to try and secure their Championship status without 28-goal top-scorer Charlie Austin.
Austin had to have his appendix taken out on Tuesday, forcing him out of the 1-0 defeat at
Leeds United, and the final three games of the season.
It remains to be seen whether Clarets fans have seen the last of the 23-year-old, who only has a year remaining on his contract, and is likely to attract offers that will test the board’s resolve to hold onto him over the summer.
Boss Sean Dyche is confident Burnley can cope without their talisman, as they did at the turn of the year when, ironically, producing their best spell of the season with four wins in five league games.
He said of Austin’s absence: “That’s part of life, the same player was missing in January
and we won four out of five, so it’s a great opportunity for someone else.
“We have to stimulate that thought process in the players and be ready to go.”
He confirmed Austin will miss the remainder of the campaign after Burnley fell to within three points of the bottom three, with three games to play, and explained: “Charlie’s had his appendix taken out, he just came into training and was feeling under the weather.
“We thought it was the bug that’s been going round, but he wasn’t feeling any better later,
and after blood tests we saw he had to have his appendix taken out, and luckily it was sorted quickly.
“He just felt ill, but we’ve had a couple of others - Alex (Kacaniklic) and Millsy (Joseph Mills) - who were off with the bug that’s going around.
“He thought it was that at first and went home and was still struggling with it, tight stomach and everything. We got him off for blood tests and the consultant said it needs to come out straight away.
“That was it. Decision made.”
Burnley failed to score for the second successive game at Elland Road, and Dyche admitted: “We didn’t create enough. We had a couple of nearlies, but they were on the front foot, simple as that, and when you’re playing against a team that’s like that it can be difficult at times. We need to be brave with the ball, or braver with the ball, keep it better - we gave it away cheap - and just bring a bit more spark to the way we played. It just wasn’t there and sometimes that can happen. We need to do better - it’s as simple as that. We didn’t start right, there wasn’t that energy.”