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Thursday 14 December 2017

Injury threatens Michael Keane's ever-present record for Burnley

Michael Keane has played every Premier League minute for Burnley this season
Michael Keane has played every Premier League minute for Burnley this season

Michael Keane may not finish the season as one of the Premier League's ever-present players as the Burnley defender has an injury concern ahead of West Brom's visit to Turf Moor.

The 24-year-old England international is one of just four outfield players, along with Bournemouth's Steve Cook, Middlesbrough's Ben Gibson and Chelsea's Cesar Azpilicueta, to have played in each minute of their respective clubs' Premier League fixtures this term.

However, Clarets boss Sean Dyche revealed that run is under threat for Keane due to a knock, and he could be sidelined on Saturday along with regular central-defensive partner Ben Mee, who was another ever-present prior to the shin problem he sustained against Manchester United during the last home game.

It could mean James Tarkowski makes just his second Premier League start alongside Kevin Long, whose top-flight experience amounts to just 20 minutes against Newcastle on New Year's Day in 2015, when he tore his cruciate shortly after coming on.

"Keano has a knock, so we'll give him the benefit of the doubt," Dyche said.

"Ben Mee is close (to returning) but we'll have to wait and see. We'll certainly give him benefit of doubt.

"(Stephen) Ward's done well, so I think he'll be okay and George Boyd's done well so I think he will be okay."

Victory over the Baggies would ensure the Clarets' Premier League status for next term after instant relegations following their previous two promotions.

West Brom used to be seen as the epitome of a yo-yo club themselves, one who had four promotions and three relegations in a nine-year span towards the start of the century, but they are now on course for a top-half finish in their seventh successive Premier League campaign.

A study conducted this week by analytics group CIES Football Observatory also found West Brom to be the best performing Premier League side based on a correlation between their points total and the transfer expenditure on this season's squads, with Burnley third in the rankings.

And Dyche has been impressed by how the Baggies have established themselves.

"They've shown over many years they're developing; they're a bigger version of Burnley," he said.

"With all due respect to ourselves, I think West Brom are still a bigger concern. They had a head start in terms of their future planning.

"There was a time at the beginning of their journey where they put a lot of money in to get where they've got to. But on an ongoing basis, they've run it more like what seems quite a controlled business.

"We're in the mix. Every club will have their own way of looking at how their business is done. This club's got its own way and I play my part in that.

"It's difficult sometimes, and it's a massive challenge because we haven't got everything that everyone else has got. But I don't want to cry because on the other hand we've got a lot of good things that help teams and clubs be successful.

"We're doing our version of what we think is appropriate to continue the club's development as a whole, not just on the pitch but off it."

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