Burnley are currently sitting pretty in seventh place in the Premier League and many people believe them to be batting well above their weight considering their wage bill, squad and recent history but there is a factor that might prove to be the Clarets’ downfall and that is injuries. Coming into the Christmas period Sean Dyche was missing key players such as Robbie Brady, Matthew Lowton, Stephen Ward, Chris Wood and club captain Tom Heaton and from the three festive fixtures, the northern outfit managed 2 points, including an unlucky draw at Old Trafford against Manchester United.
This lack of players has proved to be one of the reasons why Burnley may be struggling to pick up points at the moment and with the recent injury of Scott Arfield leaving him out of the Clarets’ FA Cup loss to Manchester City so I will be looking at how Burnley can use the timing of the January transfer window to strengthen and solidify their top ten spot in the Premier League.
The only out and out wide player that Sean Dyche has available at the moment is Icelandic Euro 2016 hero Johann Berg Gudmundsson thanks to the recent injury of Canadian international Scott Arfield and the season-ending injury of first-choice left winger Robbie Brady. This means that if they are to continue being a threat going forward Burnley will need to sign a wide player who can not only cross the ball to provide service for Sam Vokes, Ashley Barnes and other strikers but also one who can also score himself.
Possible option: Matt Ritchie (Newcastle). Ritchie will be a tough one to get as he is a good player and will be valuable to Newcastle but if Dyche sees something in him and feels like a wide man is a necessity, it could be possible. The only issue I can see personally is with his wages.
Burnley’s striking armoury has been bolstered recently with the return of Nahki Wells and Jonathan Walters but they are still without the kind of talismanic, do-it-all goalscorer that had previously been seen in players such as Danny Ings and Charlie Austin. Sam Vokes and Ashley Barnes can grab goals every now and again but with the New Zealand international Chris Wood still out, they may need to spend some money to get those much-needed goals and in turn, wins. Another reason for needing a number ten style player is that Jeff Hendrick has been drifting in and out of games. The Republic of Ireland international is being played behind a lone striker but seems to be finding himself too deep and often not making the runs that are often required. If Hendrick can improve Burnley may be okay but they could be in trouble if not.
Possible option: Danny Ings (Liverpool). Danny Ings spent four years at Turf Moor, leaving to go to Anfield at the end of the 2014-15 season. Injury has somewhat hampered his development a little at Liverpool however and with Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino well above him in the pecking order, Ings may be allowed to return to his former club, where he scored freely in the Championship, on a possible loan. The only issue I can see is that he is injury prone and he will be on much higher wages under Jurgen Klopp. Burnley may be able to get around the money problem however by splitting Ings’ wages with the Reds and paying a fee to compensate.
Sean Dyche failed to sign a centre-back to replace departing Michael Keane in the summer but James Tarkowski has shown himself to be even better than Keane and has forged an incredibly strong pairing with Ben Mee. The only issue in that position is with cover. Kevin Long is the only other out-and-out centre back in the Burnley squad and if Dyche was unlucky enough to find himself with two injured centre-backs, there would be no cover. It is possible that Phil Bardsley or Charlie Taylor could slot into the gap but with Taylor as the only fit left-back and Bardsley keeping the now fit Matt Lowton out of the team, I’m sure Dyche would rather have a specialist filling in.
Possible option: Axel Tuanzebe (Manchester United). 20-year-old Axel Tuanzebe is currently in the Manchester United under-23 squad and has made a couple of appearances for the first team. He looks solid and could be one for the future and Dyche could combat the pull of a career at Old Trafford with the development shown by young centre-backs at Burnley and the thought of it being possibly easier to get first-team football at Burnley. Dyche could however also look to Burnley’s own academy as there are a number of young players who will be eager to break into the first team squad. An example is 18-year-old Oliver Younger. Younger has fluttered between the under-18 and under-23 teams and has been successful so far and there is no doubt that, growing up a Burnley fan, this young defender will be eager to get his chance at the top.
What are your thoughts on this Burnley fans? Let us know in the comments below!
featured image credit Adam Haworth