Sean Dyche hopes returning Burnley striker Andre Gray will be allowed to move on from the ill-judged social media posts that earned him a four-game ban.
Gray will be back on duty against Manchester United on Saturday for the first time since September 17, having been suspended for a series of offensive – and in one case homophobic – tweets dating back to 2012.
The 25-year-old has apologised for sending the messages, which appeared during his time with non-league Hinckley United, and stressed he turned over a new leaf long before arriving at Turf Moor.
Burnley have condemned the posts but supported their player and now manager Dyche hopes to draw a line under the incident.
“I don’t know what abuse he will get… if you come out, hold your hands up and say ‘that’s not me any more’, what abuse will you get?” he said.
“There’s no crystal ball for me, he’s a young man developing and learning, and there’s no guarantees he’s going to cope with it in any way, either positive or negative.
Sean Dyche confirms that Stephen Ward is fit, while George Boyd trained on Thursday in preparation for @ManUtd
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“I think it’s fair to say his behaviour will be monitored more closely. I don’t mind that. I think that comes with the territory a little bit, first of all going into the Premier League as a player and then with an incident that’s not to do with football.
“This type of situation, he can only learn from. He’s got to learn from it, it’s happened, so you get a sanction for it., you pay your price for want of a better way to put it, and move forward.
“The ones who don’t learn are often the ones who have trouble in the future, and I don’t think he’s that type, he’s trying to move forward.”
While Dyche is not sure how Gray will be treated by rival fans, or how it will impact his game, he is certain about one thing.
For him, avoiding the medium entirely would be the easiest fix of all.
“Social media is a modern thing and for footballers I don’t think it’s a useful tool,” he said.
“There are good things to it, for charity work, getting a message out, promoting things, for families keeping in touch.
“But in football it opens an unnecessary moment. Everyone talks about on the pitch but there’s so much changed off the pitch. It’s a whole different profession off the pitch from even when I was playing.”