Belfast Telegraph

Dyche making no Vokes promises

Burnley boss Sean Dyche is not prepared to speculate on when Sam Vokes might be ready to make his Premier League debut for the club.

The striker, one of the stars of the Clarets' promotion campaign last season, has been sidelined for eight months by a serious knee injury.

But he is closing in on full fitness and made a goalscoring return to action this week with Burnley's under-21 side.

Asked if he was hoping Vokes would be available before Christmas, Dyche said: "No. I'd be hopeful he'll be available when he's ready.

"He's been going well, his injury timelines are good. And to get him on the grass in a game, albeit a reserve game, is fantastic.

"He looked nice and healthy and sharp and now it's about progressing from that, building his physical power and stamina in order to play for longer, and also his mental alignment, to make sure he's feeling good and he's feeling right about himself, because that's a massively important thing."

Dyche admitted the 25-year-old, who scored 22 goals last season, is desperate to test himself again at top-flight level after making a handful of Premier League appearances for Wolves earlier in his career.

"Absolutely, it's taken him long enough," said Dyche.

"He's been out on the grass with us training and each step gives you a boost. He slowly edged into training, now he's been in full training for a couple of weeks so that's another step forward, and he gets half a reserve game and another step forward.

"But we'll build that up slowly. There'll certainly be no rush from our point of view. We want to make sure he's almost over fit.

"He's a big character, he's an important character around the group, let alone his playing ability, so I think the squad are delighted for him as well."

The goals of Vokes and Danny Ings were crucial to Burnley's promotion, and the latter now appears to have found his feet in the Premier League with three goals in his last four games.

The 22-year-old's brace at Stoke last weekend helped Burnley to a second successive win while he also netted twice for England Under-21s in their victory over Portugal at Turf Moor earlier this month.

Ings' form has led to him being linked with a senior England call-up, but Dyche is not expecting that to come any time soon.

He said: "It quickly accelerates. I suppose the thinking behind that is, with the numbers of European and world players playing in the Premier League and not so many home-grown players, then it would be fair to say he is looked at probably more seriously than 20 years ago as a young player.

"They do get accelerated to certain levels very quickly. I know (England assistant manager) Ray Lewington very well having worked with him at Watford and I would think if there was anything in it he'd probably drop me a line.

"All players are ambitious, all players want to play at the best level they can, and these players have earned the right to play at this level and beyond possibly.

"We'll have to wait and see. The main thing for Danny is to keep enjoying his football. I've said it all along, he's at his best when he's enjoying what he's doing and he's certainly enjoying it at the moment."

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