Beppe Sannino believes Burnley’s promotion push this season raises the question of whether Championship clubs need large squads to achieve success.
Burnley, who are managed by ex-Watford boss Sean Dyche, are nine points clear of third-place Queens Park Rangers with seven games remaining.
The Clarets have sustained their automatic promotion charge with a settled side. Only 11 players have started more than ten times in the league this season. In comparison, 15 Watford players have been in the starting XI on more than ten occasions.
Burnley have used just 21 players in the Championship and for leaders Leicester City it is 23. In contrast, Watford have given 36 players a run-out and the top two’s nearest rivals QPR have used 32.
Watford’s head coach paid respect to Dyche and said he is a “quality manager” who deserves the success he has achieved.
He recognised the impressive job Dyche did at Vicarage Road and disagreed with the suggestion that managers want to prove a point when returning to their old clubs.
Sannino went on to say: “I am not surprised by the job he (Dyche) has done because he is a good quality manager.
“The surprise has been the minutes his players have played. There are eight or nine [outfield] players who always play, which is not easy to do.
“Burnley have shown everybody that it doesn’t matter if you have a large squad because with 13 or 14 players Dyche has picked up 79 points.
“This could be a matter for reflection; to raise questions. Do we need a larger squad?”
Danny Ings and Sam Vokes have scored 20 league goals apiece to maintain Burnley’s promotion challenge but Sannino’s comments, ironically, come at a time when both players are set to miss the Watford game due to injury.
Vokes suffered a serious knee injury during the 2-0 defeat to Leicester City and Ings is still recovering from an ankle problem and is likely to miss the trip to Hertfordshire.
Ashley Barnes, signed from Brighton & Hove Albion in January, is Burnley’s only fit, recognised striker.
But Sannino said: “When you miss players, you always have players who come in who are not tired and are fresh. So it [Ings and Vokes’ injuries] won’t make too much of a difference.
“Burnley are a compact and aggressive team where there is not just one player who is very good. Burnley’s players are at the same level and they are a team. This is the main strength of Burnley.”