Dyche impressed by Barton’s fitness


Burnley manager Sean Dyche says he has been impressed with Joey Barton but admits the midfielder has "some work" to do.

Free agent Barton returned to Burnley on January 2, signing a contract until the end of the season, and the 34-year-old played the entirety of Saturday’s FA Cup third round 0-0 draw at Sunderland.

The former England international looked in good shape throughout the match despite not playing competitively since Rangers’ 5-1 thumping at the hands of Celtic on September 10.

Dyche now has to decide whether to include the midfielder in his starting line-up for Saturday’s home clash against Southampton or leave him for the FA Cup replay a week today.

The English tactician has been happy with how easily Barton has slipped back into the Clarets’ fold but the manager says he wants to see more from the ex-Rangers star.

“He knows he’s got some work to do, but his general fitness was very good, and credit to him,” Dyche said. “He’s had a spell and been training with us, with the sports science team away from the main team while he got his base fitness up.

“But true match fitness is different and he was good with that.”