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Rodriguez Focused On First Game Back

Fit-again striker boosted by training return and Premier League start date

2 June 2020

Jay Rodriguez says the return to full training and a restart date for the Premier League came as a major morale-booster for the Clarets’ camp.

Burnley have been back in training for a fortnight after restrictions around COVID-19 were eased by the government.

Initial non-contact training in limited numbers was upgraded to allow group training and tackling on 27th May.

And with professional sport now in phase three of the government guidance, the Premier League will restart on 17th June provided all safety requirements are in place.

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“It’s been really good; to get back and see the lads and get as normal as we can really,” said Clarets frontman Rodriguez, who had helped Sean Dyche’s men put together a seven-match unbeaten run before the shutdown brought about by the coronavirus pandemic in mid-March.

“We had a programme when we had lockdown which we stuck to.

“Now coming into it with the contact and the training regime we’re doing and having that date really gives us as a team a focus for that first game.

“It’s definitely been a big morale boost and something we’re looking forward to.

“You always want to know details of what you’re leading up to and it’s been on everyone’s mind. Are we going to get a date to start?

“When we did it was a relief. We are happy to go ahead and follow the guidelines and the main thing is we’re safe, which is the key to it.”

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Rodriguez went into the lockdown with a knee injury sustained in the Clarets’ 1-1 draw with Tottenham on 7 March – their last game before football was put on hold with Burnley 10th in the table with nine games to go.

But the striker – who has bagged eight goals since returning to Turf Moor last summer – has reaped the rewards of a successful rehabilitation programme he followed during lockdown to be back to fitness and playing a full part in preparing to return.

“I feel good. My injury is fine and I’m just happy to be back,” he added.

“It was strange in the pods at first with a maximum of four or five, but it was good to see people and get back to the training ground.

“When we had the green light to have contact, I think that was a really big thing for us.

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“With small-sided games, possession games you get your sharpness and fitness, as well as the running.

“It was straight back into it. It’s always competitive – like every training session we do at Burnley. It’s good competition and you want to win and keep improving.

“As soon as we got into that first session it was back to normal and the lads took it on perfectly, which is what we need to do, to continue within the guidelines to be safe but to be focused and ready for the first game.

“It’s just been exciting to get back in and get going.”

The opening two fixtures on the re-start date of 17th June will be Aston Villa v Sheffield United and Manchester City v Arsenal, as all four clubs play their game in hand to level up the table.

The Clarets – due next to go to City – will then resume their programme over the weekend starting Friday 19th June with exact fixture details and televised schedules to be confirmed shortly.

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