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When our Premier League season restarted back in June with that heavy defeat at Manchester City there was shock among Burnley supporters when the team was announced, and more so with the players on the bench.

We knew that Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, Robbie Brady, Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood were all ruled out with injury and we had been made aware of the contract issues involving Phil Bardsley, Joe Hart, Jeff Hendrick and Aaron Lennon. The latter four were contracted until the end of June so they could, I suppose, have played, but none of them were there and that left us with two spare places on a bench that included two goalkeepers and a number of young players.

Two days later, thankfully, Bardsley signed a new deal but at the same time it was confirmed that Hart, Hendrick and Lennon had departed and had played their last games for Burnley.

I would have written about the three of them on their departures but such as been the rush of games that it is only now, with the season ended, I can take a look back at the three of them and their contributions to Burnley Football Club.

Of the three, Hendrick has made the biggest contribution. He signed for us on transfer deadline day in the summer of 2016 and I think it is fair to say that he’s been a big part of Sean Dyche’s squad for the last four years. Of the 140 Premier League games we played between him signing and leaving, he featured 122 times with only fifteen of those appearances from the bench.

On the day he signed, he quickly flew back to Dublin to play for his country but soon made his Burnley debut in our next game, at home against Hull. He scored the first of his nine goals in the next home game against Watford, a team he was sent off against in the away game later in the season. His final Premier League goal earned us a win against Everton back in October while he was in the team that drew with Spurs in the final game before lockdown.

I have been a fan of Hendrick during his time at Burnley but I think it is fair to say that he’s been something of a marmite player and admitted last year that he knew he wasn’t popular. I always thought we looked a better team with him in than when he wasn’t playing. A lot was said about the positions we played him in but we had such a good run of form two seasons ago when he played in the advanced role and again this season when he played on the right hand side.

He’s been linked with a number of clubs including both AC Milan and Manchester United. I suspect the link with Newcastle is perhaps the stronger.

Aaron Lennon wasn’t with us quite as long. We were very close to signing him a year after Hendrick had arrived. It didn’t quite happen but in the next window in January 2018 he made the move from Everton, making his bow as a substitute in a 1-1 draw at Newcastle.

He established himself immediately as a first team regular and from the next game, at home against Manchester City, to the 1-0 defeat against Spurs at Wembley in December he started all but one game. It all then  came to an abrupt end with him needing surgery. He didn’t play for the remainder of the 2018/19 season and in the season just ended he was used mainly as a substitute.

I thought Lennon was hugely impressive in his early games for us but last season he struggled, possibly due to the injury, and he’s hardly set the place on fire recently with his occasional appearances so I think it was no shock that he would be leaving. Having said that, we occasionally saw the old Lennon, the one that the Spurs fans adored, and probably his best performance for us came in the 4-0 win against Bournemouth early in 2018/19.

Will he stay in the Premier League? There have been suggestions of a return to Leeds, his first club, and that would probably be one that the Leeds born Lennon would enjoy.

That takes us to Joe Hart. I think we were all shocked when we signed him and probably more so that he kept Tom Heaton out of the side for the first half of the 2018/19 season. He made his Burnley debut in Turkey against İstanbul Başakşehir and then went straight into the Premier League team three days later at Southampton where he kept another clean sheet in successive 0-0 draws. There were just three clean sheets in his 19 Premier League appearances, the other two at home against Bournemouth and Brighton.

He was left out after the Everton debacle on Boxing Day; his only games since have been this season’s cup ties. Hart is an experienced top level goalkeeper with 75 caps for England. He’s had a difficult four years since being shunted out of the City team by Pep Guardiola. Our form improved dramatically after Heaton came in for him. Was that a reason for the improvement or was Joe Hart just very unlucky to be in goal during our worst spell in the Premier League since our return for years ago?

A fourth player also left at the same time. Adam Legzdins has been at the club for three years having come in to cover the goalkeepers, then Heaton and Nick Pope. He didn’t play any games in the first team.

We would like to wish all of Jeff Hendrick, Aaron Lennon, Joe Hart and Adam Legzdins the very best no matter where they find themselves next season and beyond.

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