Clarets boss Sean Dyche sees no reason why Sam Vokes can’t pick up where he left off in the Championship.
Vokes netted 21 goals in 2013/14 to help Burnley win promotion to the Premier League, before suffering a ruptured cruciate knee ligament injury at the end of March.
The Wales international striker returned nine months later against Liverpool at Turf Moor on Boxing Day, and netted in only his second appearance back against Spurs in the FA Cup.
He went on to make another 15 appearances last season, making five Premier League starts, but couldn’t add to that solitary strike.
Dyche feels Vokes will benefit from a full pre-season, to build onto his fitness base over the calendar year, and said: “I think it’s important.
“He had a good look at it last year and knew the challenges of it anyway.
The hardest thing for Sam was to come back fit, come back firing, but also at a higher levelSean Dyche
“The hardest thing for Sam was to come back fit, come back firing, but also at a higher level.
“It’s very difficult, and I thought he acquitted himself well.
“His continued training at the end of last season would be more beneficial to him than others because obviously others had played so many games.
“We’re looking for him to come back bright and ready to go, and his training will enhance with the group.”
Asked whether he can rediscover his promotion season form, Dyche added: “We’ll see. He’s delivered fine performances for us so many times that historically you’ve got to say ‘yes, he absolutely can’.
“But there’s always just that window allowing him to play, letting him get back and letting him play.
“It’s important he’s allowed that freedom to just get on with it without people over-thinking it, but we’re looking forward to him being back, as with the other lads and getting the group together.”
Vokes played 45 minutes in Friday night’s 2-1 friendly win against Etoile Carouge in Geneva, but skipper Jason Shackell and new signing Jelle Vossen both missed out.
Shackell picked up a “calf problem”, while Vossen had yet to receive international clearance after his move from RC Genk.
Shackell’s absence added to speculation about his future, amid continued interest from former club Derby County.
The club captain trained earlier in the day at the club’s base in Evian over the border in France, but was not risked.
The rumour mill went into hyperdrive, but while Derby remain keen to bring Shackell back to the Ipro Stadium – and are not giving up their pursuit as it stands – the situation has not moved on significantly since the Rams had an offer of up to £2m rebuffed last month.
I understand Shackell feels he has unfinished business in the East Midlands, and would not be averse to a return to a club where he spent a solitary season before a £1.1m move to Turf Moor three years ago, but the ball is firmly in Derby’s court.
There were suggestions of a deal involving cash plus Richard Keogh last weekend, which is likely to appeal to Burnley – a profit on a player who has been virtually ever-present for three seasons, plus a younger replacement – and it appears the speculation isn’t going to go away any time soon.
Shackell did, however, did take part in Saturday’s recovery session back in Evian with his teammates after Friday’s game, and could feature, with Vossen, at Accrington Stanley on Saturday.