Burnley boss eager to reduce demands of the modern game

Sean Dyche

Sean Dyche

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STATISTICS emerged this week revealing Burnley have the 12th youngest squad in the Football League - while the club have also used the fewest players in the Championship.

Boss Sean Dyche has expressed his desire to add leaders to his squad in the summer, looking to bring in more experience and players to select from - with the depth of the pool available to him not ideal.

The average age of the Burnley squad is 23.76, the sixth youngest in the Championship, with Peterborough United the youngest in the Football League with an average of 22.42.

And when Burnley met Blackburn Rovers in the derby on Sunday, the club that has used fewest players in the division with 24, met the club who have used the most, with 36.

The Clarets relied on a similarly small squad when earning promotion to the Premier League in 2009 under Owen Coyle - when Graham Alexander played 61 games for the club, and Dyche said: “We haven’t got a massive squad really.

“We’ve inherited not a big squad. There’s the development group as well of course, but it’s one of those misleading things because the development players are in there - for good reason because they are part of what we do - but it can be misleading in the sense that it makes the squad look bigger than what it is.

“When you put what you would call recognised first team players against the development group then you know it’s not massive.

“We’re always looking to see where we’re really at and the players are generally delivering, I think they’re getting more and more used to what we’re trying to do any buying into the changes; there are more changes going on at the training ground and more things that we’re looking to put in place. The flexibility and adaptability are important for the group.”

The demands of the modern game see clubs managing their resources to avoid fatigue - something Burnley don’t really have the luxury of doing, and Dyche added: “Of course you’ve got to be realistic with the demands of the Championship.

“Frank Lampard two years ago played 62 games, Grezza played 61 for Burnley.

“We do play a lot of games now, the demands of the game have got a lot more intense in my opinion throughout football.

“But nutrition is better and the support’s better - scientific support and medical support.

“I don’t overthink it. Put it this way, when a team’s winning every week you don’t see that many managers changing it every week.

“You don’t see too many tired players when you’re top of the league. I think there’s a balance.

“I don’t make excuses for it, but equally I’m not saying it’s perfect to have so many games and so few players used.”

And it isn’t just the pace of the game, other aspects of modern football and society can complicate matters: “As the science and fitness levels have increased, as they invariably do, the outside influences have got greater.

“Virtually every player has an agent, lots of players have some form of facebook or twitter account, they are bombarded with lots more information, there’s media coverage from all parts.

“There’s a lot more going on for players, not just the football side of things.

“But with football, things have definitely increased - the stats will tell you that the mileage has increased per player, per team, the team mileage has increased, the high intensity runs have increased.

“That all, at some point, takes a lot out of you.”

• The Burnley Express has launched a FREE football app which is now available to download on iPhone and Android devices.