Burnley boss Sean Dyche provided mixed news after Wednesday’s Carabao Cup success over Millwall, with Brighton midfielder Dale Stephens close to joining the club but forward Jay Rodriguez a doubt for the weekend clash at home to Southampton.
A 30-yard thunderbolt from Josh Brownhill set the Clarets on their way to a 2-0 win at the Sky Bet Championship outfit before Matej Vydra wrapped up the victory in stoppage time.
Rodriguez had hobbled off early on at the Den with an ankle injury and is unlikely to face his old club Saints on Saturday, but the Lancashire side could have Stephens in their ranks.
The experienced Brighton midfielder has been tracked for a long time by Dyche.
“We are dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s but we think that one is almost there,” the Clarets manager said of Stephens.
“He is a player I have liked historically, he obviously fits with the financial thinking at the minute, but he is a player we like.
“He is an experienced player and I’ve tried to sign him in the past and I often stick with my targets and eventually manage to get them here.
“We want to wish him all the best when he comes in. It is not done, but it is more or less done so I can’t see anything stopping it.”
Stephens could make his debut in the evening kick-off with Southampton and his presence will be a welcome boost to a team low on numbers.
Rodriguez’s injury in south London means he will join James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Jack Cork, Robbie Brady and Ashley Barnes on the treatment table.
Dyche admitted: “It is not ideal. We will wait and see and give it 24 hours to settle down. It was more of a twist.
“The lad dropped his foot on Jay and twisted – no malice at all, it was accidental – but as he did, it rolled his ankle. I would be pleasantly surprised if he is fit over the next few days.”
Centre-back Tarkowski, who has attracted interest from West Ham and Leicester, was again “not available” due to a toe injury.
It meant Jimmy Dunne and Bobby Thomas started at the heart of defence, the latter in for his debut, and they helped Bailey Peacock-Farrell keep a clean sheet on his first start for the club since he joined from Leeds in the summer of 2019.
“First half we weren’t quite at it – apart from an absolutely world-class goal and the two young centre-backs, who were immense all night – so I reminded the players at half-time and I was pleased with the response,” Dyche added.
“There is still a gap between what the young players are doing now and playing in the Premier League, but they are certainly on the right pathway.”
Burnley will host the winner of Thursday’s tie between Manchester City and Bournemouth next week.
Millwall had started the third-round fixture strongly and tested Peacock-Farrell through Matt Smith, but struggled to create clear-cut opportunities against the top-flight opponents.
Lions boss Gary Rowett said: “One moment of quality from Burnley has opened the game up a bit. You will not see a better goal anywhere this season, it was an incredible strike. It was a fairly even game and we played our part.
“We created more chances than we had done in some of the other games we’ve won, but I felt the difference was that clinical side to their game.”
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