Kompany backs Foster to shine after mental health break

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Vincent Kompany believes Lyle Foster has shown he belongs in the Premier League and can hit new heights after opening up about his mental health struggles.

The South African did not play a match for nearly two months while he sought treatment but has impressed in the four games since returning to the Burnley side.

He put in a man-of-the-match display against Aston Villa last Saturday, scoring a late equaliser only for the hosts to be awarded a controversial late penalty.

Boss Kompany said of the 23-year-old, who joined the Clarets in January from Belgian side Westerlo: “What he’s for sure shown in the little time he’s played in the Premier League is that he’s made for this league.

“What level in this league is difficult to assess because sometimes we forget about how high the bar has been set now in the Premier League. I don’t think it’s ever been this high.

“I don’t know whether the priority for him right now is anything other than being happy and playing. He’s got an eight-week plan, so he’s still being closely monitored at the moment.

“I think you have to look at it like an injury a little bit. Every positive sign we want to see, we’ve seen. Everything he’s had to do he’s done brilliantly and now we just have to keep him on that path. Of course the goal is to just have him live a normal life but he will get there.

“He was good before but he was playing with a massive weight on his shoulders. Us going through the process and him being what he’s showed now, I don’t even think he’s at full fitness yet.

“But just having the weight off your shoulders, being free to play, that’s why his performances are now of another level. He’s hopefully on a path where he’ll be able to unlock everything he’s got.”

Kompany is proud of how Burnley have handled the situation, allowing Foster the time he needed away from the pitch despite their struggles.

“I think we’ve proven how we’ve reacted as a club,” he said. “Our best player, our number nine, was gone.

“If people want to understand why this club is different it’s because in moments like this we have absolute unity. There wasn’t a person that came in and said, ‘careful’ or, ‘what are the implications’, because it could affect his value as well. But nobody cares.

“We did what is right by the player, and we will continue to do so for him and every other player we have. We have to sometimes suffer short-term consequences – which are never worse than for the player himself, of course – but in the long term we’ll always be better because of it.”

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