18 September 2014 18:41
Danny Ings’ absence is set to test Burnley’s depleted front line when Sunderland visit Turf Moor for Saturday’s Premier League encounter.
The 22-year-old forward was replaced shortly before half-time in Burnley’s 0-0 draw at Crystal Palace last weekend with a hamstring injury.
Initial fears were that the England Under-21 international could be set for an extended spell on the sidelines, but manager Sean Dyche stated on Thursday that the issue was a “straightforward hamstring injury”, although no timeframe has been made public.
Ings, who scored 20 goals in 40 Championship appearances to help fire Burnley back to the Premier League last season, joins fellow striker Sam Vokes on the sidelines – the Welshman still recovering from a long-term knee injury.
Goals are certainly a concern for the Lancashire team, who have netted just once in four league matches, but Dyche has backed the likes of Marvin Sordell, Lukas Jutkiewicz and Ashley Barnes to come good.
“They are a little trio of strikers who want to do well,” Dyche said. “Big Jukes has done well but like any striker he wants to nick a goal.
“They are all hungry to grab their chance in the Premier League and who wouldn’t be?”
Burnley, who are also without Matt Taylor (Achilles), have yet to win in the Premier League, although it could have been a different story had Scott Arfield not missed a late penalty in the Palace stalemate.
Despite their winless start, Dyche insists that spirits remain high in the squad.
“There’s never a question of morale. That’s always good,” he added.
“We are close to getting our first win. We have arguably deserved one but that’s football and we have to force the issue to get the first win.”
Like Burnley, Sunderland are still searching for a first Premier League triumph of the campaign. It took until the end of October for Sunderland to register their first league win last season and they will be keen to avoid a similar barren spell in 2014-15.
Head coach Gus Poyet witnessed his side twice come from behind to pick up a valuable 2-2 draw at home to Tottenham last weekend, despite being second best for the majority of the encounter.
Former Burnley striker Steven Fletcher was left out of Poyet’s 18-man squad for that clash, with Connor Wickham preferred in a lone front role, while Jozy Altidore was named on the bench.
Poyet has been happy with Fletcher’s response to being dropped, though, and claims he will get a chance to impress ahead of a run of three games in seven days.
“Fletch has trained well, serious of course, not happy of course,” he said.
“But he’s trained really hard and wants to be part of it, which is great.
“It’s good for me. We’ve got three games coming up everyone is important. All the time, I only look towards the next game, but we’ll look at [Tuesday’s League Cup game with] Stoke [City] after Burnley.”
Sunderland have no reported injuries ahead of the match.