Burnley boss Sean Dyche has spoken of his delight at having the “important” figure of Ashley Barnes back available for selection.
Barnes, who has been recovering from hernia surgery, was in first-team action for the first time since New Year’s Day just prior to the international break.
The 30-year-old striker played up to midway through the second half of the 3-0 Carabao Cup loss to Manchester City on September 30, and then slightly longer three days later in the 3-1 Premier League defeat at Newcastle.
Asked about Barnes ahead of Monday’s trip to West Brom, Dyche said: “He’s a good player, we know that, an effective player.
“The group respond to him. They like him. He’s a character around the group. On and off the pitch he has become an important part of the team and the club.
“He’s well recognised in these parts for what he does on the pitch, and also by our group for what he is like around it and around our training area.
“He’s certainly someone we’re pleased to have back fit. He looks fit, he looks sharp and well, and he’ll only get fitter and sharper from playing.”
Dyche, whose side have been beaten in each of their three league games so far this term, has said he is hopeful another forward, former Albion man Jay Rodriguez, will be available for Monday’s contest after missing the last three games in all competitions due an ankle problem.
The manager has also reported Barnes’ fellow long-serving Claret Ben Mee is “making progress” in his recovery from injury but still not close to a comeback.
Club captain Mee is yet to play this season and sat out the final six of last term after sustaining a thigh problem.
Dyche said of the centre-back: “He’s making progress. It’s been a long-winded one for Ben, a really awkward one, because it was an injury where we certainly thought he’d be around it at the beginning of the season, and he hasn’t been.
“He had a slight re-injury on his way back, which kind of set him back a little bit. He’s back on the grass currently, and feeling a lot easier, but he is going to need a period to get him back to full fitness. So there is better news, but it’s still that he’s not close at the moment.”
Matt Lowton (ankle) and Jack Cork (foot) are also unavailable. Burnley have been assessing Johann Berg Gudmundsson (groin) and Bailey Peacock-Farrell (hip).
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