Sean Dyche welcomed the ideal preparation for the start of the Clarets’ European campaign – despite the absence of some senior players from their friendly win at Preston.
Striker Chris Wood was among the missing at Deepdale as his fitness wasn’t risked three nights before Burnley’s second qualifying round, first-leg Europa League tie at Aberdeen, while the breaks were kept on Robbie Brady’s comeback.
Ashley Barnes and Steven Defour remained sidelined, but the Clarets showed sufficient strength in depth to beat the Championship side 3-2 at Deepdale thanks to Aaron Lennon’s second goal in two pre-season games and late strikes from the young pair of Dan Agyei and Dwight McNeil.
“In the last preparation time for the Aberdeen game we put this in deliberately because we knew it would be a proper game and I think it was, so that was important,” said Dyche.
“It was quite clear there were different groups of players. We are still a few missing and we still want to be active in the market which we are attempting to be – because we diluted quickly – for the bigger picture.
“But it was good tonight and I’m really pleased. The group you saw tonight is very motivated, they’re looking fit, looking well and looking sharp and remind ourselves, we have some very good players I feel.”
Lennon cancelled out Josh Harrop’s opener before Dyche changed 10 outfield players 10 minutes into the second half.
Agyei made it 2-1 with a thumping header and then after Callum Robinson had equalised for North End, McNeil continued his impressive pre-season campaign by volleying home the late winner.
“The group that came on was a group that came together very quickly because we had to pull people out and I think the young lads did terrific and the older pros around them,” added the Burnley boss.
“We know there is a big game coming but we know there is a bigger picture as well.
“The Premier League is three weeks away and these young lads are getting a feel of the first team and it’s really good for them.”
Dyche will make a couple of late fitness checks before his squad heads north on Wednesday for their European return at Pittodrie on Thursday night.
Defour won’t make it as he continues his recovery from a calf injury, but the others could be close to contention as the Clarets prepare for the two-legged tie with Turkish outfit Istanbul Başakşehir awaiting the winners in the third qualifying round
“There’s nothing wrong with Robby. In the timelines from that sort of injury coming back, then it’s important the game schedule is spread out,” Dyche explained.
“Woody we pulled out just because he has a tightness around the top of the hamstring so we thought we’d better be careful.
“Barnesy is doing okay. He just had a slight pain in a knee tendon. Nothing too serious but it needed settling down.
“I’m pleased to say it has and he’s been on the grass, so hopefully that will continue to improve.
“We’ve got Popey coming back in the building, of course. It’s nearly there.
“We wanted to put two sides out tonight that looked like two sides. We haven’t got there but it’s nearly there. They’re not miles away, so that’s good.”