Versatility of forward options is big boost going into the new campaign

Jay Rodriguez. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard
Jay Rodriguez. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard

Chris Wood may have nine goals in pre-season, but Sean Dyche feels he hasn’t been the only forward to stand out.

Dyche likes what Jay Rodriguez has brought to the table after returning the club, while Ashley Barnes remains a favoured option, capable of filling a number of roles.

Both have played in wider positions in pre-season, the side finishing 4-2-3-1 against Nice, with Dwight McNeil off the front, while Barnes played off Rodriguez at Wigan.

And Dyche said: “I have been really impressed by all variances. Everyone was at it (on Tuesday), which is what you want of course.

“Jay Rod offers that flexibility and we know Barnesy can do it, he did it a lot at Brighton and has done it for us in the past.

“We know Woody can play up there on his own.

“We know Barnesy can play up there on his own and probably Jay Rod.

“Dwight (McNeil) can float around the midfield and it’s nice to have flexibility.

“We want to be effective, whichever way you look at it – we were effective with both (systems), and the mood the players were in, I think we were always going to be effective, because sometimes you get that, when everyone is on top of it, and I thought everyone was.”

Matej Vydra didn’t get on the pitch against Nice, while Nahki Wells has barely featured as he returns from international duty with Bermuda, and both could be involved against Parma tomorrow: “We are making sure everyone is fit and everyone has minutes and we are in much clearer position to do that this season, of course than last year with the Europa League, so it has been more normalised.

“The ones who have missed a game, we will have to use Saturday to get them competitive minutes.”

But Dyche admits, naming the side to start against Southampton is a difficult call, given the players’ form during pre-season: “I think, to be fair to the players, normally the last friendly, everyone goes ‘that will be the team’, and I think this will be the first time when there is that many good performances during pre-season, that I think there could be changes beyond Saturday.

“I will be honest, most managers myself included, normally play what you think is the team in the last one, but I think it is tight this season. The last game of pre-season might not be the team that starts against Southampton.”