STEVEN Defour is not expected to be fit for the start of the new Premier League season, according to Burnley manager Sean Dyche.

The Belgian international has not featured for the Clarets since January and has undergone an operation on a calf injury.

Defour did return to pre-season training with the rest of the squad, but has not been fit enough to feature in any of the matches.

“Steven’s not close, he’s still recovering, he’s had a couple of niggles and upsets so we’re just having to work with him and wait for his body to get strong enough to join in with us,” said the Clarets boss after the 2-2 friendly draw with Wigan on Saturday.

Goalkeeper Nick Pope, winger Robbie Brady and defender Ben Gibson all missed the 2-2 draw at Wigan on Saturday through injury, but Dyche is hopeful the trio will return to play a part in the remaining pre-season fixtures.

“Popey is just a bit tight in his groin, and Robbie’s got this rib thing, which is painful,” said Dyche.

“Every time you think it’s settled down, you have one tweak. It’s nothing serious but very painful, so we’ll see how he goes in the early part of this week.

“Gibbo’s settling nicely, he wants to get back at it, but we’ll probably hold him back. He’s done really well to recover quickly, so we want to make sure.”

Ben Mee returned to the squad, starting the match at the DW Stadium, after a slight groin injury.

The centre half went down in the first half and looked in some pain as he clutched his right knee. Mee was able to carry on and played around an hour.

“It was just a bang on the knee,” Dyche added.

“Ben wanted to play on, we designed it for him to play that long, he was always going to play that long.”