Sean Dyche has emphasised the importance of the Premier League to Burnley ahead of Wednesday’s Carabao Cup clash with Newcastle.
The Clarets head into the second-round tie at St James’ Park having lost their opening two league matches against Brighton and Liverpool, with a home match against Leeds to follow on Sunday.
Asked at his pre-match press conference where the cup competition lay in terms of his priorities, Burnley boss Dyche said: “It’s certainly not the first priority, because that’s the Premier League, above all else. That being said, you want to field a team that you believe can win.”
It was then put to Dyche that it would be important to fans for him to field a strong side, and he said: “The importance is what it is. We’ve always had respect for cup competitions. It’s just the simple reality that the main priority is the league.”
Matej Vydra and Ashley Westwood, who missed the 2-0 loss at Anfield with groin and toe issues respectively, are doubts for Wednesday, while Dale Stephens and Kevin Long remain sidelined after surgery.
Dyche said it was “likely there will be some changes” for the Newcastle game and he could hand debuts on summer signings Nathan Collins and Wayne Hennessey.
He added: “It’s just a simple fact for us – Premier League football for Burnley Football Club, for the town, for the area, it’s a great thing. So I’ve just got to be realistic about it.
“It’s another game to win, of course, I’ve always made that clear, but it’s a game to make sure you’ve got players who are fit, sharp and well. We’ve already had a couple of injuries, got two who are out from last season, so that’s not been great for us.
“It’s just a simple reality, the fact of the matter and what’s in front of you, and that is that the league games always will be more important, certainly at Burnley.
“We’ve had two games, we’ve had two losses. We went through it early last season (not winning in their opening seven league games) when it was very tough and we came through it.
“We’re certainly working to not allow that to happen again. We want to get points on the table, and therefore you’ve got to make sure your players are fit and ready. That’s just key to what it is when you’re working with a very small squad like we do.”
Dyche was also asked about former Liverpool, Newcastle and England midfielder Terry McDermott at the weekend revealing he has been diagnosed with dementia, two days on from similar news emerging about Manchester United and Scotland great Denis Law.
And the former defender said: “It’s worrying in the bigger picture of health, because we don’t want anyone to be unhealthy and have problems like that.
“There’s enough science it seems to me now going on more recently, and the demand for it, so that seems to be getting put in place. If that can help, then it will do.
“I’ve met Terry McDermott, a very humble, incredible guy in my opinion. I grew up watching that era and marvelled at those players. I don’t understand all of dementia and the depth of it, but hopefully he’ll not be too unwell.
“I’m learning as I go, and the scientists are getting involved in football quite heavily as you know. We had a Premier League meeting as well about some of the protocols and ideas they are looking at to try to prevent such things. Hopefully that will have a part to play.”
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