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Wood you Bur-lieve it? Dyche has striker selection dilemma

By Mark Walker, PA

Burnley boss Sean Dyche faces a selection dilemma for Saturday’s Premier League game at Newcastle after confirming striker Chris Wood is fit again.

Wood, who is the club’s top goalscorer this season, missed last week’s home win against Bournemouth due to a hamstring strain and in his absence Matej Vydra struck his second goal in as many matches.

“Wood is certainly fit, so he comes back into the thinking,” Dyche said. “But Vyds and Jay-Rod (Jay Rodriguez) in the last couple of games have certainly laid down a marker.”

Wood has scored 10 league goals this season, while Vydra made his first Premier League start since November 2018 against Bournemouth.

Fellow striker Ashley Barnes is working his way back from a hernia operation.

Dyche also confirmed that midfielder Johann Berg Gudmundsson, who has been sidelined with a hamstring injury, has suffered a minor setback in his recovery and will not feature at St James’ Park.

Defender Matthew Lowton (knee) is closing in on his return but will not be included in the squad this weekend.

Burnley’s victory last weekend was their fourth in five unbeaten Premier League matches, a run which has lifted them up to 10th place in the table.

Dyche admitted his players’ form, following a run of four straight league defeats last month, has given him plenty to ponder.

“It helps with your thoughts when the team are not just winning, winning’s obviously very important, but it’s also if they’re performing,” he said.

“I think we weren’t as good in the first half last week, but we were very strong second half.

“Generally the team’s been performing well and it does help somewhat when you’re thinking of picking your side.”

Burnley’s current form has rekindled fans’ hopes of a repeat of their seventh-placed finish in the 2017-18 season and Europa League qualification.

But Dyche added: “We weren’t too worried about chasing that last time and we’re not now.

“We’re constantly assessing where we’re at. The first goal is always the ongoing journey in the Premier League, that’s obvious for us and a number of other teams.

“Once we’re secure with that – and that’s the main focus of course –  then you reorganise your thoughts with your group.

“But we’ve certainly got to get the first job done first, which is to keep winning, keep performing and get as many points on the board as we can.”