PHIL Bardsley could return from his freak injury for Burnley's trip to Chelsea on Easter Monday.

The full back has missed the wins over Bournemouth and Cardiff City after slicing his leg open on a table while playing a game of head tennis at the Clarets' Barnfield Training Centre.

It was the latest in an increasing long line of issues for boss Sean Dyche to contend with this season with problems set to run right up until the end of the campaign.

January signing Peter Crouch is out after needing surgery on an appendix injury while Steven Defour's calf problem is going to rule him out of the remainder of the season.

Aaron Lennon however could return before the end of the campaign as he steps up his recovery from a knee operation.

“I think Phil will be right this week," said Dyche.

"He was touch and go for Cardiff. We’ve been down since Christmas, virtually all season really, to 16 or17 players, so you're always wanting them back fit.

"But you can’t push them, if they break down again, you’re down to 14 or 15.

"It’s been a tough season in that sense without a doubt."

It has been a different campaign for the Clarets given their early start and Europa League campaign and Dyche believes that has made a difference when it comes to the amount of injuries picked up.

“It’s been a strange year, a statistical anomaly, the last year we’ve had for soft tissue injuries, but you can’t underestimate the early start and the mixed, different pre-season," the Clarets boss said.

“Pre-season is there for a reason, to get you ready for the season, and when it’s compromised by games and odd games at odd times, travelling and rest, it makes a difference.

"We had 16 fit players for the first European game, so that’s not an ideal situation.

“We never quite got out of that cycle through the season.

“We’ve still got it now, Aaron, Steven, a crazy twist of fate with Crouchy, among many others.

“But within all that, there's been a clear alignment from the players in the second half of the season to push everything aside, no excuses, no-one feeling sorry for themselves and get on with it and win games."