Time for Ashley Westwood to step up – Burnley’s guide to coping with Steven Defour’s Absence
Burnley midfielder Steven Defour suffered a horrific knee injury in their recent game against Newcastle United and he is expected to be out for the next two months. Scans have revealed that the player will require surgery and this causes a massive dent in the Clarets’ plans going forward.
Although they started the new season on a strong note, Burnley’s performances have deteriorated recently and to have a crucial player like Defour out will be a major blow.
Although signing a replacement was a requirement, Sean Dyche failed to bring any new midfielders into the squad, meaning Burnley will be stretched thin for quality options in that area. After all, Defour had started all 24 of the club’s fixtures in the Premier League.
Effective at dominating play and pulling strings, there is no doubt that the Clarets will miss his influence. However, moving forward will be key and with challenges only set to intensify hereafter, the club will have to find a solution soon.
The most obvious option would be to utilize Ashley Westwood in his absence. Westwood actually came on to replace Defour against Newcastle and he did quite a decent job. The problem with Defour’s injury is that even if he can recover in two months, he will take some time to actually return to match fitness and until then, Dyche might have to rely on Westwood.
The 27-year-old has proven to be quite handy for Burnley in recent weeks, thus making him a shoo-in to replace Defour in the heart of the midfield.
Up until now, Westwood made substitute appearances often and was iced out of the squad due to impressive displays from Jack Cork and Defour. However, with the latter out indefinitely, Westwood must be relishing this opportunity.
Much like Defour, Westwood is proficient at breaking up opposition plays to spring some unexpected counter-attacks. He seems like a reassuring yet effective presence and can maintain fluidity by playing short passes.
In addition to that, Westwood is quite experienced as well and it will be interesting to see how well he fares for the remaining season. Currently sitting in the seventh spot, Burnley are farther ahead than most people would have expected but with competition heating up, they will need to be at their strongest to solidify their position and possibly even push for a higher-placed finish.