CLARETS boss Eddie Howe expects to have Jack Cork available again before the end of the season.
Cork returned to his parent club Chelsea for medical tests after feeling unwell at half-time during England Under-21s’ 2-1 defeat against Iceland at Deepdale on Monday night.
The 21-year-old was kept in hospital overnight in Preston after suffering palpitations before being discharged, and he then reported to Cobham where he was monitored by Chelsea’s superior medical facilities.
His problem has yet to be fully diagnosed, but he will miss tomorrow’s home game with Ipswich Town.
And Howe said yesterday morning, after receiving a phone call from Cork: “I haven’t heard anything official yet from Chelsea, but we’re confident it’s nothing serious and we’ll have Jack back with us hopefully very soon.
“I think he’s feeling a lot better, so there are all positive signs hopefully. It was a strange one, because we watched the game and we’d felt he’d picked up a knock and that’s why he’d come off.
“So to find out what had happened was a surprise, because it’s the last thing you’d expect.
“But until we hear officially from Chelsea, it’s difficult to know what’s happened.”
However, while that news was a shock, it has otherwise been a positive week at Turf Moor.
Chris McCann made his reserve team on Tuesday night, playing 37 minutes against Oldham, while Steven Thompson is back in training after his groin operation, and Nathan Delfouneso returned with the boost of his goal for England Under-21s.
Howe’s options are improving, and he said: “Chris McCann got a game in the reserves for a short period of time, but it was an important step for him – a big step for him.
“To have him returning to fitness is fantastic – he’s not there yet but he’s getting closer and that’s a huge positive step for us.
“I think it was a big hurdle for him mentally.
“I’ve been there myself, after a long time out that first game is always a big hurdle to overcome.
“Once you do that and you can see that everything’s okay, the future looks a lot rosier.
“He’ll be pleased to have got through that.
“There’s still a long way to go and tougher tests to come, but he’s certainly looking good at the moment.
“Steven Thompson was also back in training this week.
“Although he’s again well short of match fitness, it’s another positive step for him.
“It’s been good.”
The international break came at a good time for Howe to take stock after taking one point from three games.
Burnley stand three points outside the play-offs with a game in hand, with nine to play.
He admitted: “It’s been a good couple of weeks in terms of training, the lads worked very hard and have done very well. The intensity to training’s been very good.
“It’s been a good chance to evaluate, not only to look back but to look forward as well, to the games we’ve got coming up.
“The lads have been in very good spirits and the attitude’s been first class, so it’s just a case of trying to transmit that on to the pitch now in terms of getting some results.”
Burnley have seven of the top 10 to play in those last nine games, but their results have been better against clubs in the top half than the bottom.
Howe said: “On paper it’s a tough run-in, but you can never look too much into that.
“The last few results tell you that.
“In this league, it’s difficult week in week out.
“We hope to raise our game against the top sides. We’re going to need to. But it’s in our hands with all those teams to play.
“Anything could happen between now and the end of the season.
“We’ve got to make sure we start it well, starting against Ipswich. It really is a big game.
“We want to get the crowd with us from the first minute, I think that’s going to be so important that we create an atmosphere that’s uncomfortable for Ipswich.”