BRIAN Flynn insists Burnley remain ‘certainties’ to claim automatic promotion – despite losing Sam Vokes to a serious knee injury.
Vokes ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during the Clarets’ 2-0 home loss to Leicester City on Saturday and will be out of action for several months after going under the knife yesterday.
Former Burnley star Flynn has great sympathy for a player he has previously worked with in the Wales set-up but believes the injury has come too late in the season to affect the Clarets’ promotion chances.
Second-placed Burnley are nine points ahead of third-placed QPR with only seven games left to play, and also have a much better goal difference than the West London side.
“If the injury to Sam had happened with 17 games to go rather than seven games to go there might have been more concern,” Flynn said.
“But I think they’re promoted, they’re certainties to go up now.”
Vokes’ injury has left Burnley with Ashley Barnes as their only fit striker, although Danny Ings is nearing a return from an ankle problem but is unlikely to feature at Watford on Saturday.
Vokes had netted 22 goals for club and country this season and Flynn knows the 24-year-old well enough to be sure that he will approach his recovery with great determination and continue to improve as a player when he returns.
“I first saw Sam when he was 17 down at Bournemouth and I thought then that he had a real chance in the game to be a top player,” said Flynn, who coached Vokes during his time as manager of the Wales under 21 team.
“This has been the best season of his career so far. He has really developed as player, he’s scored a lot of goals, and I’ve been delighted for him.
“He’s got that knack of finding space in the box. He has always had that.
“I just hope now that he can come back soon. He’s strong mentally and that will help him.
“There’s more to come from Sam, I have no doubt about that. He will come back stronger from this and he will keep getting better.”
Vokes’ combination with Ings up front delivered 46 goals for the Clarets this season.
“Sam’s partnership with Danny Ings has been a big part of their success, although I know it has been a team thing,” Flynn added.
“They’re really good at both ends of the pitch.
“Still living locally and seeing some of the games I’ve been really pleased to see how well Burnley have done this season.
“The job Sean Dyche and his staff has done has been fantastic.”