The goalkeepers union and the midfield
Are we set for a partial overhaul of the goalkeepers at Turf Moor following promotion to the Premier League? If so, I don’t expect it to be anything like as dramatic as it was three years ago.
Sean Dyche was in his first close season as Burnley boss. He was still to make his first permanent signing and had a shortage of goalkeepers with Lee Grant having opted for a move to Derby and Brian Jensen leaving Turf Moor after ten years at the club.
First through the door was Tom Heaton from Bristol City. I’m not sure too many were that impressed to be honest, he’d just been relegated from the Championship with a Bristol City side that had conceded 88 goals.
Heaton was quickly followed by Alex Cisak, Danijel Nizic and Nick Liversedge. It led to much message board amusement that he could only bring in goalkeepers but the latter two had both been with the Clarets prior to Dyche’s arrival and were getting pre-agreed deals.
There have been changes since. All but Heaton have now gone and both Matt Gilks, two summers ago, and Paul Robinson, earlier this year, have joined the club. The question is now as to who stays and who goes.
Heaton is the number one. He’s started every single league in the last three seasons. He’s kept an incredible total of 49 clean sheets and has won himself a number of call ups for England. We now all await his England debut.
But what of Gilks and Robinson? Both are out of contract and the club, as yet, have not confirmed any news on them or the other players in a similar position. Gilks has been linked with a move to Hearts and is expected to leave after two years with just two League Cup appearances. Robinson is getting close to the end of his career and it is uncertain whether he’ll be retained as cover.
That leaves just Conor Mitchell and Tony Aghayere. Mitchell, a Northern Ireland under-19 international, celebrated his 20th birthday just nine days ago and the 18-year-old Aghayere is just coming out of the youth set up. Both have been out on loan during the season at non-league clubs.
You would think there is every chance of a goalkeeper being added to the squad and the speculation got underway yesterday with two names very much in the frame, Charlton’s Nick Pope and Daniel Bentley at Southend.
Pope, as was the case with Heaton, three years ago, has just been relegated to League One. He’s been at Charlton throughout his career but has spent a lot of that time out on loan at other clubs in the bottom two divisions. Last season he played 22 league games for Bury. His appearance for Charlton against us on our title clinching day was his 91st Football League appearance.
However, recently, in an interview, Pope said he was not looking to move from Charlton despite the relegation.
Our local press are suggesting that he’s the one but I was led to believe yesterday that Bentley could be the main target. The 22-year-old has already played over 140 league games for Southend, his only club.
Earlier this month, Southend boss Phil Brown admitted he would be unlikely to be able to keep hold of Bentley and midfielder Jack Payne, both of whom are out of contract.
Brown said: “It’s disappointed as the manager of Southend that I haven’t been able to secure Dan Bentley’s signature.” He added: “We couldn’t have done any more to keep him.”
If there have been two goalkeepers linked with us, and a few defenders too, it’s the midfield where names are being thrown in almost daily.
Dare I mention that there was a link the other day with Nottingham Forest’s Henri Lansbury? He’s become the latter day Andrew Driver or Derek Riordan. Neither of that pair ever made it to Turf Moor and I’m sure we can all do without another long running Lansbury saga.
I suppose that’s an easy link, as are those with Derby’s Craig Bryson and Graham Dorrans at Norwich given we were very close to signing both in the two previous Premier League windows.
But further names have come in more recently, including Aston Villa pair Ashley Westwood and Gary Gardner who has spent the second half of the season at Nottingham Forest and played in their 1-0 defeat at Burnley in February.
Yesterday, the local press in Croydon were linking us and recently relegated Norwich with Crystal Palace midfielder Jordon Mutch. The report said that Mutch, who has been with Palace since January 2015 after moving from QPR, had not made the impact that was expected of him.
They reckon that Alan Pardew would prefer a move to Norwich for him as leverage for his attempts to get Nathan Redmond but I did laugh when I read that Palace would want to recoup some of the £5.8 million they paid for him. Then I remembered where we are and we are in that sort of price range now for players.
Two intriguing ones are players who will not be feeling at their best right now having just lost play-offs this week. Brighton’s Dale Stephens, apparently looking for a move back to the North West, is supposedly on the radar as is Derby’s Jeff Hendrick.
I wonder just how many of the links are no more than paper talk and how many are agents just pushing names forward. Maybe we will be signing names from this list. Time will tell.Share this page :