Date: 9th August 2008 at 9:40am
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It has been a long time coming but the 2008-9 season is upon us so today the Clarets kick off the new campaign with a trip over the Pennines to face Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough.

It has been a long pre-season for the Clarets.

Six new signings have so far arrived at the club and nine friendlies have been played.

The club have travelled to the US, Scotland and Ireland and played in games more closer to home against Accrington Stanley and Bradford City with just the one solitary friendly against Inverness Caledonian Thistle at Turf Moor last Saturday.

The results in these friendlies have augered well for the season ahead. In one of our most successful pre-season campaigns of recent years we won seven of the nine games, drew one and only lost one match. The match we lost too was our first game against Caly U-21 on our US tour which now seems ages ago!

That game was really a ‘cobweb remover’ with the Clarets only in their first few weeks of training.

The 2-1 defeat of Caley last week was the Clarets sixth win on the trot

The six new faces all appear to now be settling in well and building up an understanding with their new team mates.

It will be interesting to see today which of the new signings will feature against the Owls and the formation that Owen Coyle will choose.

Predicted Team Sheet

We have a squad of 24 players at the moment but there are some players we can discount for possible selection today:

Bes Berisha is now on loan at Rosenborg

Clarke Carlisle is suspended

Gabor Kiraly is clearly out of favour and has not featured in any of the pre-season friendlies

Jay Rodriguez, Adam Kay and Alex MacDonald, our three young guns will probably miss out

That leaves 18 players to choose from for our starting eleven and bench.

We can probably get a clue from the starting eleven that faced Inverness Caledonian Thistle

The possible line up therefore could be:

Penny, Alexander, Duff, Caldwell, Kalvenes, Van Der Schaaf, McCann, Eagles, Blake, Paterson

In terms of the bench, apart from Jensen and assuming no injuries, it is difficult to predict who else will be selected

Coyle will probably pick from Jordan, McDonald, Gudjonsson, Mahon, Jones and Akinbiyi.

The good news for the Clarets, even though it might be a selection headache for Coyle (especially in midfield) is that all the players seem to be showing good form at the moment.

However there remains a worry in defence with Alexander and Caldwell having a few indifferent games. With Clarke Carlisle suspended, we cant afford any of the defensive errors that plagued us last season
and which on occasion has also resurfaced during the pre-season friendlies;the latest one being the Caldwell blunder that led to Caley’s goal last Saturday!

The formation is also up for debate. All that can be said at the moment is that we appear to have ditched 4-4-2 and 4-5-1. We seem to operate somewhere between 4:3:3 and other more obscure formations
such as 4:2:3:1 or 4:1:2:3 in a side that seems top heavy in the midfield department. Remco Van der Schaaf though appears to have a key role as a defensive holding midfielder playing just in front of the back four.

Chris Eagles of course is no stranger to Hillsborough having played for the Owls on loan a few seasons back so he will be up for this match.

A number of Owls fans are fearful of Eagles returning and this could be our ace card.

Of course though, Sheffield Wednesday also have a midfielder familiar to the Clarets, with James O’Connor having signed for them in the close season after failing to agree a contract with Burnley FC.

The game is set up nicely therefore, so let’s hope we get off to a good start and secure our first three points of the new season in our openning game.

Sheffield Wednesday Team News:

James O’Connor will make his Owls debut against his former club.

Wade Small and Frankie Simek are however ruled out. Simek has not played since December

Akpo Sodje and Deon Burton are however fit again and favourites to start up front while Francis Jeffers is unlikely to play although could be named on the bench.

Player to watch: James O’Connor

All Clarets eyes will be on our former midfielder. He probably has a point to prove and it will be up to the Clarets to stop him.

Burnley Team News:

No injuries have been reported so far, so Coyle appears to have virtually a full squad to choose from with the exception of Carlisle who is suspended and Berisha who has been loaned out to Rosenborg this week

Player to watch: Chris Eagles

Eagles is no stranger to Hillsborough having played for the Owls on one of his loan spells from Manchester United. He will hopefully put the fear of god into them with most Owls fans already quaking in their boots!

Last Time We Met

In this corresponding fixture last season back in September 2007, the Clarets beat the Owls 2-0 thanks to goals by Blake and McCann.

At Turf Moor though in December, the Owls picked up a point in a 1-1 draw with Akinbiyi scoring our goal

Ref Watch:

CW Oliver (Northumberland)

Match Prediction:

Let’s start as we mean to go on! 1-2 Clarets

Next Match:

Bury at Gigg Lane in Carling Cup First Round on Tuesday 12th August @ 7:45 pm KO