Can the Clarets sustain their lofty league position?

05 December 2017

Sean Dyche's Clarets face a new round of injury woes. If the narrow defeat suffered by Burnley at the hands of Leicester City on Saturday wasn’t bad enough, it was compounded by an injury to Robbie Brady; an injury so bad that it required his removal from the field on a stretcher, followed by an immediate visit to hospital.

At the time of writing, the extent of Brady’s injury is not yet confirmed but the rumour mill suggests the Burnley backroom staff may well be treating yet another anterior cruciate ligament injury.

Stephen Ward the ever present Burnley left full back and Eire colleague of Robbie Brady, does not sound at all optimistic about the injury and the consequential loss to the Clarets offensive unit.

It now appears the on fire and in form Robbie Brady will be out of playing action for some time, and is all set to become the fourth member of the Clarets' first team squad to be laid low with a long-term injury.

Of course, injuries cannot be foreseen (and Brady’s was utterly accidental) but they can and must be legislated for. Burnley have been excellent so far in not allowing the prolonged absences of Tom Heaton, Dean Marney and Jon Walters to halt their progress, but there inevitably comes a tipping point where the empty chairs in the changing room becomes an issue and injuries take their toll.

One of the most impressive features of Burnley under Sean Dyche, perhaps the most impressive feature, has been the sense of togetherness and camaraderie that has been developed within the squad. This has allowed egos to not become too puffed up and crucially enabled them to collectively shrug off setbacks and carry on regardless. 

The outcome of the Clarets loss at the King Power Stadium has the feel of a watershed moment; not so much for the defeat, which whilst disappointing did not in isolation cause too much damage. It was more in the increased pressure that the addition of Brady to the list of absentees will place on the remaining healthy members of the squad as the hectic festive season schedule continues.

Moreover, it is especially awkward to lose the influence that Brady can exert on a game; he had an effective game against Arsenal last week, and an excellent one in the midweek win at Bournemouth. Brady had found his form and this merely adds to the irritation his absence engenders.

Burnley might well on another day have rescued a point from Saturday's match. They created some chances and whilst it seems churlish to be overly critical, Barnes probably should have made cleaner contact with a cross late in the game as the goal gaped before him.

The match was settled by Gray’s early goal; hurtling into the far post to apply a brave finish to an excellent Mahrez cross. Mahrez is an intriguing player, undoubtedly gifted and massively effective throughout Leicester’s title-winning season, but he has since become a moody and inconsistent player, with it seems one eye permanently fixed on a move away from the Foxes.

Whilst his ability is tantalising, he would not one feels fit comfortably into a Sean Dyche dressing room. Hard working and resolute Burnley presently sit seventh in the Premier League, with a total of 25 points. The forty-point benchmark for assuring safety in the Premier League is now a mere five victories away.

What seemed like the ultimate goal at the start of the season for the Clarets, now looks like the first of a list of boxes to tick. The players and supporters of the club need to bear this in mind as they prepare to encounter the challenges which lie ahead, challenges they must face with a squad now further depleted.

The Burnley Chairman Mike Garlick has constantly backed Sean Dyche with funds when needed. The Burnley manager will no doubt be on the lookout for another Robbie Brady to help keep what has already been an excellent season for the Clarets on the right track. 

This rather Burnley centric update was written by uber Clarets fan Dave Thornley. Dave contributes regularly on all matters emanating from Turf Moor on behalf of Clarets Mad. (TEC).