Ashley Barnes injury means Burnley bouncing back looks less likely
Only in-demand, out-of-contract attacking partner Danny Ings scored more Premier League goals for Burnley than Ashley Barnes.
The former Brighton and Hove Albion attacker’s cruciate knee ligament injury sustained on the final day of the Clarets’ top-flight campaign against FA Cup finalists Aston Villa could not have come at a worse time.
Coral have made Sean Dyche’s side 9/2 chances to make an immediate return to the Premier League, but are now set to be without two of their frontline for next season.
With Ings vrtually certain to exit Turf Moor (Tottenham are now odds-on 4/6 favourites to snap up the England Under-21 international) and Barnes set to miss the majority of the new campaign recovering from surgery, it places a huge burden on Sam Vokes.
Target man Vokes, a Wales international now preparing for a crunch Euro 2016 qualifier against Belgium, is a player that has not long returned from the same injury and equally lengthy lay-off himself.
Dyche has kept faith with a close-knit squad during his time at Burnley, but numbers look set to thin further to around just 20 first-team players as Steven Reid has retired and Ross Wallace is leaving.
The Clarets coach merely shrugged this news about Barnes off, taking it in his stride. “We know what a tough lad he is and he will be back on the road to recovery as soon as possible,” Dyche said.
As well as Vokes, central midfielder Dean Marney has endured this serious injury in recent times and absences such as these are really felt at football clubs that work on shoestring budgets like Burnley.
Necessity is the mother of invention, or so they say, and on previous occasions when they have been left short in an area the Clarets have looked to their own academy to plug gaps.
Step forward Jay Rodriguez as a case study. A Burnley boy born and bred, given the platform to perfom in the Championship turned this trainee into a prized asset. The Clarets cashed in on one of their own, selling to then-newly promoted Southampton when they returned to the Premier League, and he went from Turf Moor to an England cap.
While Rodriguez’s own knee ligament rupture at Saints is purely coincidental, 20-year-old Jason Gilchrist may get throw in by Dyche alongside reserve forwards Lukas Jutkiewicz and Marvin Sordell, who have both as yet struggled to live up to their potential.
Heartwarming, and inevitable in some quarters, as Burnley’s story has been, this latest setback hardly makes them attractive candidates to lift the Championship title in 2015/16 at 14/1.