GOALKEEPER Nick Pope is making significant progress on his comeback from a dislocated shoulder, with Burnley boss Sean Dyche seeing all-round signs of improvement among his walking wounded.

Pope has returned to light training with goalkeeping coach Billy Mercer, just four months after suffering the injury in the Europa League first leg game with Aberdeen in July.

The 26-year-old had targeted a December return earlier in the season, following surgery.

And while Dyche is reluctant to put a timescale on his comeback, the Clarets chief is pleased with the improvement Pope is making.

“Nick Pope has been back on the grass with Billy Mercer, our goalkeeping coach. He’s not training with the first team yet, in full active training, but making really good progress.

“We’re really pleased with that.”

There has been further good news for Dyche with defenders Ben Gibson and James Tarkowski both recovering well from hernia operations, although neither will be available for Monday night’s visit of Newcastle United.

“Ben Gibson is over the worst of his hernia, he’ll join in with the development squad hopefully on Saturday for a game,” Dyche confirmed.

“He’s had a really good week’s training, he’s a super fit pro anyway so he’s looked after himself. We’re looking forward to having him back of course, and I’m sure he’s looking forward to getting back after an interrupted start to his Burnley career.

“He’s had a tough start to the season and a very frustrating start to the season

“Tarky’s had his done and he’s clear. He’s going nicely through his rehab but he’s on the the grass already - not with us yet so it’s probably going to come too early for him on Monday. But he’s making good progress.”

After requiring practically a repeat of the surgery the defender had in the summer, which forced his withdrawal from England’s World Cup standby group, Dyche added: “I think there was a slight opening that can sometimes happen so when they got in there it wasn’t anything too drastic and dealt with pretty simply but it takes a bit of time for that to heal obviously.

“But he’s making really good progress now so we’re really hopeful on a quicker return.”

Dyche noted that an injury hit backline, with Stephen Ward recovering from a knee injury, had given the chance for others to stake a claim for their place in the side.

“It’s given a chance again for Kevin Long, who delivered a really good performance against Leicester, as he did against Cardiff when he came on, a really tough game to come into,” said the Burnley boss.

“Tarky’s proved to be a very good player and we want him back fit – we want all the lads back fit.

“The more fit players we’ve got the better chance we’ve got because I believe in the group and I believe in the group mentality.

“And we’re beginning to show strong signs of numbers coming back our way.”

Steven Defour and Johann Berg Gudmundsson were both withdrawn in the goalless draw at Leicester City last time out, but Dyche expects both to be available on Monday.

“Steven Defour came off at Leicester with a mild twist of his knee. He’s made really good progress and we’re expecting him to be fine. He’s trained very well,” he said.

“Johann’s fine. He was struggling with his calf at Leicester but it was an ongoing thing for a period rather than a strain, and he’d done quite well to get through that one. There was a bit of common sense with that one rather than a dynamic strain running down the pitch.

“We had to get on top of it. He had a week without training but after last weekend he’s trained all week. I’m expecting him to be fine.”