'Not prisoners' - Sean Dyche makes coronavirus admission of Leeds United's next scheduled opponents Burnley as Marcelo Bielsa assesses Whites prospects

Burnley boss Sean Dyche is expecting players to return for Sunday's visit to Leeds United - but is braced for the possibility of more coronavirus cases within the Clarets squad.

By Lee Sobot
Friday, 31st December 2021, 11:23 am

Burnley had seven absentees for Thursday night's Premier League clash at Manchester United, top scorer Maxwel Cornet (thigh), Ashley Barnes (thigh) and Connor Roberts (ill) joined by four players who had tested positive for Covid-19.

Dyche revealed before the clash that Nick Pope, Jay Rodriguez, Josh Brownhill and Kevin Long all had coronavirus but the Clarets boss expects a couple of those players to return for Sunday's clash at Elland Road due to the timing of their isolation period.

Dyche has also provided an upbeat bulletin as to the conditions of Cornet, Barnes and Roberts but admitted there was the possibility of more positive Covid tests ahead of Sunday's trip to West Yorkshire, declaring that his players were "not prisoners" and highlighting their lives away from football.

Sign up to our Leeds United newsletter

WAITING GAME: For Burnley boss Sean Dyche, pictured during Thursday night's 4-1 defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford. Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images.

Burnley saw three consecutive games called off this month due to coronavirus cases in the opposition camps and a small outbreak of the virus in the Leeds squad saw both Boxing Day's clash at Liverpool and the Tuesday night hosting of Aston Villa postponed.

The Premier League are continuing to assess each game on an individual basis, Norwich City's clash at Leicester City on New Year's Day the latest game to be postponed.

"I'm sure they don't want to be calling games off, we certainly don't, so we will have to wait and see what the challenge beholds," said Dyche following Thursday night's 3-1 loss at Old Trafford.

"But we are hopeful, we are trying to do our bit, our players are trying to do their bit but I say all the time, they have still got real lives you know.

"They are allowed out, they are not prisoners in their real life away from football.

"They are allowed out.

"But the way this is spreading it seems unlikely that we are all going to get away with it.

"I think there will be a big spread the way that it looks so we can only do what we can do and hope that our players stay away from it and if they do get it that it doesn't affect them too badly.

"We have certainly not had anyone affected too badly so far."

Asked if he expected any of his four Covid absentees to return for Leeds, Dyche said as quoted by Lancs Live: "A couple of them are coming to the end of isolation and the protocols so we are expecting a couple of them to be back for sure and maybe the other couple depending on the last bit of testing.

"Everyone's got a challenge at the moment, we don't want to over-egg that, we've lost who we've lost, and a couple of those will come back, so when they do, that adds to us.

"We might get Maxwel back around it, we'll have to see, Barnesy and Connor Roberts are too far away, but it's the challenge of what's happening at the moment.

"Whatever the rules are, whatever the Premier League requires is up to them. we just try and look after ourselves and do things as we see fit, we're not judging anyone else for sure."

Whites head coach Marcelo Bielsa faced the media on Friday morning for his pre-Burnley press conference ahead of what would be United's first game for nearly two weeks.

Asked how confident he was that the game would go ahead given the Covid situation in the Leeds camp, Bielsa said: "Until now, we think that the game will go ahead, because we are on our way back from the reasons for postponement."

A message from the Editor:

Leeds has a fantastic story to tell - and the Yorkshire Evening Post has been rooted firmly at the heart of telling the stories of our city since 1890.

We believe in ourselves and hope you believe in us too. We need your support to help ensure we can continue to be at the heart of life in Leeds.

Subscribe to our website and enjoy unlimited access to local news and information online and on our app.

With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content.

Click here to subscribe.

For more details on our newspaper subscription offers click here.

Thank you Laura Collins