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Burnley: New highs beckon for Heaton but will travel bug still lay Clarets low?

Jack Cork of Burnley in action during the pre-season friendly match between Burnley and Hannover 96 at Turf Moor on August 5, 2017 in Burnley, England.

Star man: Tom Heaton.

On the pitch

Burnley’s goalkeeper is the stand-out player in a team high on work ethic and low on stars. If Joe Hart continues struggling, Heaton could find himself in England’s starting lineup for Russia.

Biggest summer buy: Jack Cork. Back for his third stint at the Clarets following previous loan spells in 2010 and 2011, the 28-year-old midfielder ought to provide a calm presence in the heart of a midfield vacated by Joey Barton.

Breakthrough season: The Republic of Ireland centre-back Kevin Long has earmarked this as his chance to make an impact after putting injury problems behind him to start the final three games of last season. Following Michael Keane’s departure to Everton, Burnley are crying out for a good centre-back and Long should get a chance to step up.

Bad boy: The summer release of Barton has left an opening for the vacancy of Burnley bad boy. Andre Gray is the obvious candidate, although the striker insists he is a reformed character since his days spent running with gangs and posting unpleasant homophobic slurs on social media.

Boo boy: Steven Defour, an overpriced and apparently uninterested Belgian, arrived last summer for a club record fee and was already making noises about leaving Turf Moor as early as Christmas. The 29-year-old midfielder started only one of Burnley’s final 15 matches last season and will incur the wrath of fans proud of their team’s work ethic should he fail to pull his weight.

Destination Russia: Having played for Iceland at Euro 2016, Johann Berg Gudmundsson will be hoping his home country can make it to the World Cup next summer. Iceland are nicely poised: second in Group I on goal difference behind Croatia, two points ahead of Turkey and Ukraine.

Glass half-full: Burnley finished six points shy of a top-10 finish last season and could make the top half of the table if they can improve their dire away form. Beating Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in their opener would throw down a serious marker.

Glass half-empty: Relegation with a new manager in charge after Sean Dyche is lured away by a bigger club in relegation bother.

Off the pitch

The manager: A cross between Sam Allardyce and Marco Silva with a sprinkling of Jürgen Klopp on top, Dyche is extremely likeable and very enlightened but prone to occasional withering pronouncements that suggest that, at heart, he is really an old school, dyed‑in-the-wool proper football man. Cross him at your peril.

The owners: A lifelong Clarets fan, Mike Garlick made his millions in global management consultancy. Patient and loyal, he is reasonably thrifty without being parsimonious and is happy to keep a low profile. As club chairmen go, they don’t get much better.

Tony Scholes’ fan’s view: There’s every reason for cautious optimism. We’ve added players who are going to bring us some real top‑level experience and our strength comes from unity. We are still looking for a replacement for Michael Keane, though. Prediction: 14th. Follow Tony @utcdotcom

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Barry Glendenning, for The Guardian on Friday 11th August 2017 12.00 Europe/London

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