Trying to end a slow start is chief among Sean Dyche's concerns as new boys Burnley come out of the international break. Having so many players toiling for their country could compound those difficulties Saturday when the Clarets try to peg back fellow promoted side Hull City at Turf Moor.
One of the side effects to spending Premier League TV money on quality players is that some of them are called to international duty for World Cup qualifying. Record-signing Jeff Hendrick was among those players representing their country for Burnley (1-0-2), helping Ireland kick off qualifying along with new teammate Stephen Ward.
Steven Defour (Belgium), Tom Heaton (England), Sam Vokes (Wales) and Johann Berg Gudmundsson (Iceland) all reported to their respective countries, with only Heaton not seeing any time as he deputised for Joe Hart. Scott Arfield, though, may be the most likely candidate for replacement in Dyche's starting XI after playing both of Canada's qualifiers in North America.
This match should also serve as Hendrick's debut for Burnley, having joined the Clarets on a £10 million transfer from Derby County prior to last week's deadline, a figure that was also a record for money received by the Rams. The midfielder netted his first international goal in Ireland's 2-2 draw Wednesday at Serbia and played well in this summer's European Championship.
"After a protracted deal, we have got a main target of ours and we welcome Jeff to the club and hope he does well," Dyche told the team's official website last week at the time of the signing. "He is someone who can add to our strength in midfield and he's a player who is still learning and still developing and is someone who we think we can work for us now and the future."
Burnley's midfield was sorely lacking prior to the international break when they were overrun 3-0 by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Aug. 27. The Clarets had less than 40 percent possession and failed to put any of their six shots on frame, and also had a torrid time trying to contain a rejuvenated Eden Hazard.
It was the second straight shutout defeat for Burnley, who were bounced from the League Cup by Accrington in extra time on Aug. 24. Their only goals in four matches this season came in the 2-0 victory over Liverpool on Aug. 20.
Though Hull City continue to be unsettled off the field and on the touchline - the latest attempt for owner Assem Allam to sell the team, this time to a consortium of buyers from Hong Kong and China - appears to have fallen through, the Tigers (2-0-1) were a pleasant surprise in the early going.
They were denied a perfect 3-0-0 start with a 1-0 setback to Manchester United on Aug. 27, conceding a second-half stoppage-time goal to Marcus Rashford. After getting by with only 13 fit players for those matches, Hull City finally opened the pursestrings and acquired six players before the transfer deadline, highlighted by Tottenham and England international Ryan Mason for a reported club-record £12.5 million.
Another of the new signings, Norway international Markus Henriksen, is eager to make his Premier League debut.
"Hull has had a great start to the season and I can't wait to play in the Premier League," said Henriksen, who had 16 goals in all competitions for Dutch side AZ Alkmaar last season and two in three matches this campaign, to the team's official website. "The group and the staff are amazing. I had four years in Holland and I felt ready to take the next step.
While manager Mike Phelan has more bodies at his disposal this weekend, whether he stays beyond it continues to be an area of concern. While there were reports he was close to signing a deal that would remove the interim status, his representatives released a statement to Sky Sports on Thursday that they "remain in talks with the club's current owners but are still wide apart on an agreement."
The home team won each match in the Championship last season, but Burnley have won all four top-level meetings between the sides. The Clarets did the double over Hull in both the 2009-10 and 2014-15 seasons in the Premier League.