Sean Dyche has provided a positive update on the respective injury recoveries of Burnley midfield duo Steven Defour and Johann Berg Gudmundsson ahead of this weekend's Premier League visit of Tottenham Hotspur to Turf Moor.
Defour has made 21 appearances since arriving from Anderlecht in a club-record £8m ($9.9m) transfer last summer, although has been sidelined since limping off with a hamstring problem during the first half of a 1-0 victory over Leicester City on January deadline day.
His absence has coincided with a winless run of seven matches across league and cup, yet hopes of an imminent return were boosted earlier this month when the player featured for 70 minutes of a friendly win over North American Soccer League outfit FC Edmonton.
While Defour was subsequently left as an unused substitute for a goalless draw at Sunderland, Dyche has confirmed that the 28-year-old's conditioning improved markedly during the recent international break.
"Steven is fitter generally," he said during a pre-Spurs press conference held at Barnfield, according to the Lancashire Telegraph. "I'd still like him to get a game when we can, but he's looking way fitter."
Gudmundsson sustained a medial ligament strain during a last-gasp FA Cup fifth-round defeat to non-league Lincoln City in February and was subsequently sent to visit a specialist. Such a problem was initially said to be taking longer than expected to heal, although it appears that the Icelandic winger has now made significant progress and could return to training next week.
"Johann has had a big breakthrough in the last week," Dyche added. "He's running freely again, more or less pain free now, so he's on the verge of training with us. Not quite yet. He's mainly with the sports science team this week. Maybe early next week. He probably needs a game now, because it's been a number of weeks, and a few weeks more than we'd hoped. He probably needs a game to make sure, but he's in much better spirits at the moment, so that's good."
Burnley defender Michael Keane returns to club action against Mauricio Pochettino's Tottenham having been rewarded for his impressive domestic form with back-to-back 90-minute outings for England in matches against Germany and Lithuania. Dyche does not believe that the added pressure that will inevitably arise after such a seamless transition to senior international football will affect the highly-regarded centre-back.
"I don't think that will worry him at all," he said, as per PA Sport. "He's a pretty level kind of player really. His mentality is pretty solid. I've never looked on him as short of belief and I think this will add to it.
"The biggest thing is wearing the shirt. The fact is that feeling of playing for your national side, putting on the shirt and going out there in such a tough first game as Germany away...that can only add to what he's becoming and that's a very good player. He's earned the right to be considered as a fine centre-half, because he is one."
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