Former Watford boss Sean Dyche has built a promotion chasing side despite loss of key player

Sean Dyche brings his promotion-chasing Burnley to the Vic' this Saturday. Picture: Action Images

Sean Dyche brings his promotion-chasing Burnley to the Vic' this Saturday. Picture: Action Images

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Sean Dyche brings his Burnley side to Vicarage Road on Saturday looking to move a step closer to the Premier League in a remarkable season for the Clarets.

Relegated from top-flight in 2010, Burnley have bounced between the top-half and the middle of the Championship pack since relegation under Brian Laws, but with Dyche at the helm, the only way has been up.

The summer departure of last-season’s 25 goal top-scorer Charlie Austin should have been cause for concern for Dyche, but the 42 year-old’s mantra of giving other squad members a chance before signing replacements has paid off and in some style.

Burnley will be without their 20 goal top-scorers Danny Ings and Sam Vokes, with both players suffering ligament damage in recent weeks, but it is testament to Dyche’s faith in the duo that they have flourished so spectacularly this term.

Ings has missed Burnley's last four with ankle ligament damage, whilst Vokes has recently joined him on the treatment table with knee ligament damage suffered in the defeat to Leicester City last weekend.

The pair - nicknamed 'Vings' by Burnley fans - have comfortably beaten their previous bests for a season.

Vokes, 24, had previously only broken into double figures once in his career, netting 12 for Bournemouth during the 2007/08 campaign, whilst Ings had also been far from prolific, with a season’s high of seven for Bournemouth during the 2010/11 season.

With both players sidelined for the Clarets' trip to Vicarage Road this weekend, it will to former Plymouth Argyle and Brighton striker Ashley Barnes to fill the sizeable void.

Barnes, 24, joined Burnley from the Seagulls in the January transfer window for an undisclosed fee as Dyche sought to bolster his striking options.

That decision has proved astute, with Barnes now the only fit senior striker at Turf Moor ahead of the all-important run in.

Used sparingly during his first two months at the club, Barnes has started Burnley's last four Championship fixtures following Ings’ injury during the 3-3 draw at Birmingham City last month.

Burnley switched to 4-5-1 following the early injury to Vokes against the Foxes, but could well return to their favoured 4-4-2 with Ross Wallace playing off of Barnes in much the same way as Ikechi Anya has played off of Troy Deeney for Watford in recent weeks.

That 2-0 loss at home to league leaders Leicester City last weekend was the Clarets’ first league defeat of 2014, part of an unbeaten run which had stretched back to Boxing Day.

Four of the last five encounters between the Hornets and the Clarets have ended in draws, with the two sides cancelling one another out in a dull 0-0 earlier in the campaign.

Watford have only beaten Burnley once in the last seven meetings between the two sides, coming back from 2-0 down to win 3-2 in March 2012 thanks to goals from Nyron Nosworthy, Alex Kacaniklic and Troy Deeney.

Nine points ahead of third-place Queens Park Rangers, five more wins will guarantee a return to the top-flight regardless of what the Hoops do in their remaining fixtures.

Comments (1)

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10:55am Fri 4 Apr 14

not a regular says...

Please don't give Ross Wallace any chance to take free kicks. Stay on your feet, lads!
Please don't give Ross Wallace any chance to take free kicks. Stay on your feet, lads! not a regular
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