Clarets boss Sean Dyche admits record signing Andre Gray is touch and go for Saturday’s home clash with Reading with a hamstring injury.
The £6m striker was forced off just after the half hour in Monday’s goal-less draw at Derby County.
And, ahead of the visit of sixth place Reading to Turf Moor, Dyche had his fingers crossed over the former Brentford man, who was being assessed at Gawthorpe: “The impression was, anecdotally from the player himself, and the medical staff, was that if if does keep him out, it isn’t anything major.
“We’ll see. He’s touch and go.
“It’s just whether we decide if he’s ready for Saturday or not.”
While an injury to Gray would leave the Clarets with three fit senior strikers in Sam Vokes, Rouwen Hennings and Chris Long, Dyche’s hand is close to being strengthened in other areas, the midfield in particular.
Joey Barton was on the bench for the first time since signing at Derby, while Fredrik Ulvestad, Dean Marney and Kevin Long were all involved in a 3-0 development squad win over Hartlepool on Tuesday.
Barton and Ulvestad were on the scoresheet, and Dyche said: “There are good signs. For Marns and Longy to be out for seven, eight, nine months, it’s not just the injury – which is going great for both of them – it’s that true match fitness.
“It takes time and they will need a number of games, although there’s no magic number.
“They need to adapt to playing week in, week out again.
“Freddie had 45 minutes and we took him off as a precaution as he has been out for an extended period.
“But we were pleased with him after a couple of minor setbacks put him back a week at a time.
“And Joey is more or less up to speed, he still needs that sharpness training can bring – development games can only give you so much.”
Having climbed to third place on the back of a five-match unbeaten run, Burnley turn their attentions to Reading on Saturday.
The Royals spent around £4.5m in the transfer window, including a £2.5m loan fee for Matej Vydra of Watford, which equals the club’s record ever transfer fee.
Paul McShane, Stephen Quinn, Orlando Sa – suspended tomorrow – and Ola John have also arrived at the Madejski Stadium, and Dyche feels that shows their ambition for a Premier League return: “Reading are still putting large amounts of finance into trying to get back to the Premier League, and the loan fee for Vydra shows the reality of how things have changed in the Championship.
“The biggest change I’ve noticed is that since Burnley last came out of the Premier League in 2010, they were still market leaders pretty much financially.
“We’re now not, although we can still certainly challenge financially.
“The Championship has moved forward with heavy backing.
“We won’t have anywhere near the wage bill of seven or eight clubs at this level, and we’ve just been in the Premier League – we’ve had a go ourselves, but our balance sheet will be very positive.
“The market place has changed considerably, and it’s our job to see through that and focus on moving forward.”
To that extend, Dyche is happy, but sees room for improvement: “Four wins and a draw at Derby is a very good run of form. It is about finding that balance of continuing to demand improvement, and racognising the fact that things are moulding.
“You have to find ways of winning games or getting points on the board, and we have done that, although there are improvements to be made.”