Sean Dyche says there has to be a balance there to keep the division healthy and competitive

Credit: PA

Sean Dyche has admitted that Burnley’s squad is still being “stretched” by the coronavirus outbreak at the club – as they prepare to face Manchester United in the Premier League on Tuesday. 

That will be followed by fixtures against heavyweights Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City – with the game against United being the first of six league matches for Burnley within a three-week period.

Dyche questioned the impact of the fixture pile-up on players’ health – and the competitiveness of the Premier League.

The Burnley manager fielded a reasonably strong line-up in Saturday’s Cup win over League One MK Dons, with a sprinkling of youth, but they had to survive a huge scare, trailing 1-0 until a last-gasp equalising strike from Matej Vydra, before winning on penalties.

Nick Pope, Burnley’s England-capped goalkeeper, was an unused substitute – allowing debutant Will Norris to shine by saving two penalties in the shoot-out – and Dyche is hoping that Pope will be ready for the clash with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men.

Dyche said: "After a 10-day period [without a game due to Covid-19, until facing MK Dons], and all the noise about players playing too many games and not having time to recover, they are being thrown back into this situation. 

"There has to be a balance there to keep the division healthy and competitive – healthy being the first thing, but competitive as well. We try to be as competitive as we can, which we showed with our selection [against MK Dons] – and we’ll do that for Tuesday and thereon. 

"We have got four different positions, four different people, with Covid situations. We have also got a mixture of injuries. Once again, we find ourselves stretched."  

Cameron Jerome’s header for MK Dons had threatened an upset, with visiting goalkeeper Lee Nicholls impressing.