No more second chances for Drinkwater
Danny Drinkwater’s attempt to restart his career suffered another setback this week and the Burnley midfielder may soon run out of chances.
Clarets boss Sean Dyche confirmed at Thursday’s pre-match press conference that the 29-year-old would be missing for the next two weeks after sustaining injuries during an altercation outside a nightclub in Manchester.
The club had originally kept quiet on a ‘mystery’ injury the on-loan Chelsea man had sustained during the international break, only for the Sun to reveal the details of what happened at the Chinawhite club.
Having finally got himself match fit following a year of inactivity at Chelsea, Drinkwater had been bidding to make his first Premier League appearance since April 2018 when Burnley travel to Brighton on Saturday.
Instead, he will be left at home to heal up and consider where he goes from here, having hit the headlines for the wrong reasons for the second time this year.
In May, the former Leicester man was banned from driving for 20 months after crashing his Range Rover through a wall while twice the legal drink-drive limit.
Those two incidents are black marks against the name of a player who appeared to have the world at his feet after a starring role in Leicester City’s fairytale Premier League title triumphed in the 2015-16 season.
Having been let go by Manchester United in January 2012 without making a first-team appearance, Drinkwater’s rise to prominence was one of many feel-good stories to come out of that unforgettable season for the Foxes.
Having helped Leicester get promoted initially, the central midfielder featured in 35 of 38 matches for Claudio Ranieri’s side, forming a remarkable partnership with N’Golo Kante. No player completed more passes than Drinkwater that season, while he made the eighth most tackles in the top flight.
It was to be the season that put Drinkwater on the map, earning him three England caps, while he was linked with the moves to the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea, only to stay at King Power Stadium for the 2016-17 season.
Despite struggling to recapture his best form from the previous campaign, Chelsea maintained their interest and eventually forked out £35million for Drinkwater in the summer of 2017, handing him a lucrative five-year contract.
The switch was, arguably, the worst move of Drinkwater’s career as he failed to reignite his midfield relationship with Kante at Stamford Bridge, with injuries restricting him to just 12 league appearances in his first season.
His problems at Chelsea haven’t all been of his own making, with Drinkwater the victim of a change in management, Antonio Conte being replaced by Maurizio Sarri, who made it clear he had no plans to use him.
After a year out of football, Burnley offered him a chance to get his career back on track although he appears to be making a mess of it.
Dyche was keen to play down the significance of the altercation in Manchester, insisting these things happen and stating that it wouldn’t affect his chances of game time.
However, can Dyche trust a player who has clearly been enjoying himself a little too much away from the pitch? This is a settled Clarets team, with Dyche seemingly happy to stick with Jack Cork and Ashley Westwood in central midfield.
Drinkwater’s only appearance so far – a 3-1 loss to Sunderland in the EFL Cup – was overshadowed by a high-profile error and there is little to suggest, at this moment, that Burnley will look to make his loan stay permanent.
If he can get back on the straight and narrow, this is a player who has shown he can elevate a midfield with his pugnacious style, having been instrumental to Leicester’s success.
Drinkwater arrived with plenty to prove and has only heaped more pressure on himself with his antics. Dyche will hope he may have finally learnt his lesson and can get back to making headlines on the pitch.