Joe Hart set for instant Burnley debut in Europa League as injuries pile up
Sean Dyche is struggling to field a full bench as Burnley take the next step on their European journey in Turkey.
The Clarets boss has just 17 outfield players available for the first leg clash against Istanbul Basaksehir on Thursday — and is without striker Chris Wood.
Wood, last season’s top scorer with 10 Premier League goals, was left behind after suffering an infection from an insect bite, while Steven Defour and Robbie Brady are continuing their training at home.
With Nick Pope out long-term and fellow keeper Tom Heaton also still unavailable, new-signing Joe Hart is included for the first leg of this third qualifying round tie — along with defender Ben Gibson, who joined from Middlesbrough at the weekend.
Dyche said: “We’re a little bit limited and we’ll have a few decisions to make.
“Chris has an infection from a bite that has caused a reaction. Steven is behind Robbie, so we’re down to 17 players. But Joe and Ben have travelled for a reason – to be included, if needed.”
Czech international Matej Vydra is another who has not made the trip to Turkey, less than 24 hours after his transfer from Championship side Derby.
Dyche explained: “He’s a bit behind the curve, fitness-wise. He’s got to catch up, but he’s different to the strikers we’ve got.
“He offers a different positional sense and can work off the shoulder or in a No.10.”
But Dyche received a major boost when Ben Mee signed a new contract on Wednesday, committing himself to the club for three more years, with an option for a fourth.
The 28-year-old defender was going into the final year of his contract, but is now with the club until 2021, the sixth player in Dyche’s squad to sign new deals this summer.
Mee, who has been at Burnley throughout Dyche’s time, said: “It’s very pleasing, and I’m delighted to put my name down for another three or four years.
“I’ve been a big part of this club for the last five years and I hope that carries on for the next few years. I spoke to the gaffer last season and said I wanted to stay at the club. I enjoy it here and I enjoy the football – and that’s the main thing.”
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