Burnley having to be careful with former Belgium international Defour

Steven Defour
Steven Defour

Clarets boss Sean Dyche admits they are having to be careful with midfielder Steven Defour after his return to training.

The former Belgium international made only nine appearances in total last season, before a niggling calf injury required surgery at the end of January, ruling him out for the rest of the season.

That came on the back of an operation on a knee problem, which again cost him the second half of the previous season.

All told, the former Porto man, a £7.5m record signing in the summer of 2016, has made only 58 appearances in three seasons, scoring three goals.

No one is in any doubt as to his quality, and Burnley would dearly love to have a fully-fit Defour on a regular basis.

Dyche said from the club's training base in Portugal: “With Steven, we’re still making sure with him.

"He’s not right yet, there’s a bit of delay.

“He’s still not out of the woods yet and we have to be careful."

Robbie Brady, however, is in good condition as he looks to get back to the form he showed two years ago, before a knee injury in December 2017 put him out for the rest of that season, and start of last.

Brady was fit from October onwards, but started only six Premier League games, as Dwight McNeil nailed down one of the wide berths.

Dyche added: "Robbie looks fit and strong, he had a spell with Ireland over the summer , and hopefully he’ll have a better run.”

Dyche hopes for better fortune with injuries this season, after a testing campaign which saw the squad stretched to breaking point.

The Europa League, eating into the pre-season schedule and start of the Premier League season, didn't help matters in that respect, and Dyche said: "Last year was our toughest in terms of injuries.

“You can’t control injuries to a degree, but you can cut down on soft tissue injuries, and we’re hoping, with a more clear pre-season, without the Europa League this year, will help.

“We don’t want crazy numbers in terms of the squad, but we want it to be competitive.”