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It's New Year's Decision Day

Boss Sean Dyche welcomes selection options as Clarets look for winning start to 2020

1 January 2020

Sean Dyche admits he has decisions to make as he plots a winning start to 2020.

The Clarets face Aston Villa at Turf Moor on New Year’s Day (kick-off 12.30pm) bidding to bounce back from successive defeats over Christmas.

Burnley failed to score in either game as they lost to Everton and Manchester United to slip back into the bottom half of the Premier League table.

And Dyche has options at his disposal if he decides to make changes against a Villa side which has been dragged into the relegation places after losing five of their last six games.

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Jay Rodriguez – who scored the Clarets’ winner at Bournemouth 11 days ago and the equaliser as Burnley twice hit back to draw 2-2 at Villa Park at the end of September – impressed along with Johann Berg Gudmundsson after the pair came off the bench against United on Saturday night.

And winger Robbie Brady, who started alongside Rodriguez at Everton on Boxing Day, is another attacking alternative for Dyche to ponder as the Clarets look to build on their strong finish against the Reds and seek a sixth home win of the campaign.

“I mentioned at the beginning of the season it’s the most competitive squad I’ve had, so they’re all in the thinking,” said the Burnley boss.

“You want to win games, that’s the main key to it, and I have to make decisions.

“But I want to make those decisions. I want them all fit so I have those decisions to make.

“Jay looked sharp when he came on and I was pleased with that. Robbie as well, came on and tried to affect the game.

“I love that about the mentality and the respect they have for each other and what we try and achieve as a group.

“It is disappointing for them if you have to take them out, but they have to be motivated to come on and affect it.

“It’s slightly different for Johann, who has been out is working his way back.

“But there were no disappointments from Robbie or Jay and I think they both came on and affected it.”

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One player who looks certain to figure in the lunch-time kick-off is former Burnley captain Tom Heaton – now the number-one goalkeeper at Villa.

Heaton has started every game bar one for Villa in the Premier League since joining the Midlanders on the eve of the current campaign as they looked to re-establish themselves back in the top tier.

The England international, 33, ended a memorable six-year stay with the Clarets, which saw him make 200 appearances for the club.

And Heaton is sure to be given a warm reception on his return – almost a year to do the day since his emotional comeback to the Clarets’ starting line-up in a vital win over West Ham which helped trigger Burnley’s successful climb away from relegation danger.

“He was a fantastic servant,” added Dyche. “I speak to him now and again, just a few texts and I think, generally, he’s going well there.

“We’ll look forward to seeing him again, but not for the 95 minutes we’ll be playing.”


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