July 31, 2021


Chris Wood set to return to bolster healthy-looking squad after latest pre-season win

Boss Sean Dyche is pleased with the Clarets’ progress as player-of-the-year Chris Wood prepares to return to the fold.

Dyche’s men continued their pre-season preparations as they came from behind to win 2-1 at Tranmere Rovers with classy goals from Ashley Barnes and Dwight McNeil.

Meanwhile, Wood’s Olympic run came to a cruel end in the quarter-finals as his New Zealand side lost in a penalty shoot-out to hosts Japan.

The striker – who converted his own spot-kick – will now head back towards the UK to link up with the Clarets and Dyche feels things are heading the right direction with a fortnight to go to the start of the Premier League season.

“There are a couple of games coming up so we will see how the squad looks after that,” said the Clarets’ chief, whose team is still to play one more behind-closed-doors game and a friendly at home to La Liga outfit Cadiz next Saturday.

“Woody is coming back – unfortunately for Woody.

“It’s shame for him and for them but good for us, in a way.

“He comes back and will be able to re-acclimatise and get a bit of recovery before he joins in with us.

“I am pretty pleased and the main thing is – so far – we are injury-free.

“Everyone is fit and well at the moment and long may that continue, of course.

“Then if we can reinforce the squad as well, we’d like to think we are growing into pre-season so that when the real stuff starts we’re ready.”

The Clarets had to change their plans late on after their scheduled trip to Nottingham Forest was called off due to a small number of positive Covid tests in the home camp.

But Tranmere agreed to switch opposition from the Clarets’ U23s to the senior set-up and Micky Mellon’s League Two outfit made it a serious test behind closed doors at Prenton Park.

“They are a decent outfit and pushed us hard, which was good for us so we feel like we benefited from this,” added Dyche, whose side lacked only a real cutting edge to give a third pre-season win in eight days a more comprehensive look.

“It’s a shame we couldn’t play Forest, but I thought it was a real good game, a real thorough game – so I was pleased with it.

“That’s maybe a thing that comes during pre-season – that sharpness around the box – because it could have been a more comfortable performance, as regards goals.

“But I thought the general performance – forgetting about the goals – was good. I liked the tempo about the play, the energy and I thought there was a nice edge to it, so I was pleased overall.

“It was a terrific ball in from Dwight and a great header from Barnesy and then a great finish from Dwight.

“He is looking sharp and fit and there’s a nice edge to them.

“They have come back fit and well. We are still in the market to support the group where we can but when we’re fit and well I’ve always said it, I think we’ve got a good outfit.

“I’m really pleased overall and I’m pleased we took this game on. It’s a shame about the Forest one but I think this was the right game the way it went and the way Tranmere went about it.

“It was a real proper game, so I was pleased with it.”

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Sat, Oct 2, 2021

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