Burnley could be without goalkeeper Tom Heaton for up to fourth months after manager Sean Dyche confirmed the England stopper has undergone surgery after suffering a dislocated shoulder in the Premier League win over Crystal Palace. The 31-year-old was replaced after 36 minutes having fallen awkwardly on his left side and is not likely to play again this year, starting against Liverpool this weekend.
Though the Clarets are not willing to confirm a timeline around Heaton's possible return, The Sun understand he will not play again until 2018, a spell on the sidelines which could hurt his hopes of being included in the England squad for next year's World Cup finals in Russia.
Heaton was named Burnley's player of the year last term after a succession of man-of-the-match displays and his absence will be keenly felt by Dyche whose side are expected to be among the contenders for relegation this season. Nick Pope came off the bench to make his debut in the 1-0 win over Palace, but the Turf Moor club want to sign unattached former Manchester United 'keeper Anders Lindegaard, 33, who has been on trial this week, as a back-up.
The Denmark international has been unable to find a club since being released by Championship side Preston North End at the end of last season. The 2012-13 Premier League champion has made 19 top flight appearances during his career and also has Champions League experience
"As long as the surgery heals properly he'll be on top of rehab because he's ultra professional," Dyche told reporters. "We won't rush him back. They'd be a lesser period out for an outfield player but a goalkeeper is constantly landing on his shoulder.
"Tom understands the role and that it can happen. He's had a fantastic run. It won't be weeks, it will be a longer period. Anders has spent a few days with us. We'll speak to him accordingly. We want three goalkeepers."
Jeff Hendrick is however available to face Liverpool after missing the win over Palace with a groin injury. The Republic of Ireland international sat out both of his country's World Cup qualifiers earlier this month but will return to the Burnley midfield on Saturday [16 September]. Nahki Wells could also be in line to make his debut after his deadline day move from Huddersfield Town.
Despite claiming a hard-fought win over Palace – which ended Frank de Boer's short spell in charge of the Eagles – handed to them by Chris Wood's early goal, Dyche was far from impressed with the second half display. Palace had 23 shots on goal during the 90 minutes and were unfortunate not to come away with at least a point after some late pressure.
"This season we've mixed it more, playing through the midfield, it worked to a degree, not as much as I would have liked and hoped, so we're continually looking at different ways of flexing the team," said Dyche ahead of the trip to Liverpool where his side lost 2-1 last season, according to the Lancashire Telegraph. "We didn't play as well as we have done, with the three in midfield, so we'll look at it. Is it an anomaly? Is it because they were good? It's our job to pick the bones out of it."