Sean Dyche: Burnley asked for Watford postponement after only 10 players trained

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Burnley manager Sean Dyche revealed only 10 first-team players took part in training on Monday before the club applied for Tuesday’s Premier League fixture against Watford to be postponed.

Dyche said the relegation-threatened club were in a worse position than they had been before the Premier League agreed to call off Saturday’s match against Leicester, with Charlie Taylor having taking a knock in training to add to the list of absentees.

“We’re at such a stretched moment in time that it’s very difficult all round,” Dyche said.

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“At training today there were 10 recognised first-team players. That’s where we’re at.”

Premier League guidance says clubs should have a minimum of 13 outfield players and one goalkeeper available for a match to go ahead, though applications for postponements can also be accepted under other circumstances.

“We know over the last few weeks how clear the Premier League has been on the whys and wherefores and the level it needs to get to,” Dyche added. “We’ve put the application in in good faith. It’s only three days on from a game that was called off…

“We’ve worked really hard to get games on when we’ve been stretched but it’s just too far below the threshold.”

Asked if the postponement request could have been lodged earlier, Dyche said the club had waited for the results of Monday morning’s tests before making a call.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Burnley – Premier League – Molineux Stadium
Sean Dyche, who missed Burnley’s last match due to isolation, said the club were in a worse position than before the Leicester match was called off (David Davies/PA)

In a statement, Burnley said their application for postponement was made due to a “high number of injuries and Covid-19 cases within the squad”.

Some managers have questioned whether clubs were taking advantage of the current rules to avoid playing while dealing with lengthy injury lists.

Dyche did not reveal how many of his players have Covid-19, but said the situation can be more complicated than raw numbers indicate.

“There’s a mix of all of that,” he said. “There are some double bubbles as well. Johann (Berg Gudmundsson) is injured and has Covid.

“In the Premier League you need two clear days of training but players might have only been back for one day. That’s no use when you’ve had seven or 10 days in isolation doing very little.

Everton v Burnley – Premier League – Goodison Park
An injury to Charlie Taylor has added to Burnley’s problems (Martin Rickett/PA)

“There’s a mix of what’s going on and it stretches you to the limit.”

Saturday was the fourth time this season Burnley had a matched called off due to cases of Covid-19, but the first time the request had come from the Turf Moor club.

Tuesday’s fixture against Watford had already been rearranged – it was originally due to be played on December 15 but was postponed due to positive cases within the Hornets camp.

Burnley last played on January 8, when they were without seven players for the 2-1 FA Cup loss to Championship side Huddersfield – a match which was also missed by Dyche and coach Steve Stone following positive tests.

Since then, the Clarets have lost Chris Wood in a surprise transfer to Newcastle – forced on Burnley due to a release clause in the New Zealand striker’s contract – while Ivory Coast international Maxwel Cornet is at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Newcastle United v Watford – Premier League – St James’ Park
Chris Wood made his Newcastle debut on Saturday (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Dyche’s side have played only 17 Premier League games, the fewest of any team, and sit bottom of the table after Saturday’s results, three points shy of 17th-placed Watford.

In addition to the Watford match, Burnley’s fixtures against Everton and Aston Villa were postponed last month, while they must still reschedule November’s match against Tottenham, which was called off at short notice due to heavy snow.

A total of 21 Premier League games have been postponed this term due to coronavirus cases.

On Monday, the Premier League said that, of 13,625 Covid-19 tests administered on players and staff last week, 33 came back positive, down from 72 for the week of January 3-9, and 94 for the week of December 27 to January 2.