Date: 4th January 2015 at 11:00am
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Burnley take a break from their top flight survival campaign to take on Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup third-round tie at Turf Moor on Monday night

The Pre-amble:

The Clarets start their FA Cup campaign on Monday night taking on Spurs at Turf Moor. The third-round tie promises to deliver an exciting battle between these two famous old clubs and our history is certainly full of intriguing clashes over the years in cup games against the North London club going back to the Sixties.

Burnley are playing with a determination and ‘never, say never` attitude at the moment in their attempt to avoid relegation. Not many clubs will come away from the Etihad and St James Park with a point this season and the Clarets were also unlucky not to get anything in the recent game against Spurs at White Hart Lane not to mention Liverpool at home.

The problem for the Clarets is a mounting injury list especially in defence and it certainly did not help losing three players to injury in the first 35 minutes of the game at St James Park on New Year`s Day.

Spurs will also have been buoyed up by their recent performances especially defeating league leaders, Chelsea 5-3 in the New Year`s Day clash at White Hart Lane. Mauricio Pochettino`s men currently sit fifth in the Premier League and are unbeaten in six games with five wins and one draw. The momentum is certainly with them but what sort of team will Pochettino put out? Might he be tempted to rotate some of his players or will he put out his strongest side having witnessed how well we played against them at White Hart Lane recently? I guess it depends how important FA Cup games are to the likes of Spurs these days and to be honest although you never want to see Burnley lose, would too many Clarets fans really be upset if we got knocked out and could then concentrate on the more important task of Premier League survival without any cup distractions?

Burnley Team News:

Sean Dyche has a number of injury concerns ahead of the Spurs game. Our back four in particular could look a little unbalanced unless captain. Jason Shackell can somehow make a full recovery from the calf injury he suffered on New Year`s Day against Newcastle. Central defence could be a particular worry with only recognised central defender, Michael Keane likely to be available. Even he could be a doubt unless Manchester United allow him to play in the FA Cup before his loan expires after the QPR game a week today. Shackell`s replacement on Thursday, Kevin Long played just 20 minutes of the game before also picking up a serious looking knee injury and being stretchered off. One alternative could be to play Ben Mee in the centre of defence again along with Keane. Our only other recognised central defender, Michael Duff has been sidelined for eight games now with a calf injury and once again looks unlikely to feature. If Ben Mee is forced to play in the centre of defence that could mean we see the return of Danny Lafferty at left back. Lafferty would be the only alternative at left back with Stephen Ward out injured with a fractured ankle and Dyche looks unlikely to play Reid at right back and Trippier at left back again like he was forced to do against Newcastle.

Dean Marney was also a casualty on New Year`s Day but he will hopefully have recovered from the bug that was affecting his play against Newcastle. This should mean Scott Arfield could be back on the wing rather than in the centre of midfield. It could be a bit of a dilemma though with Kightly playing so well on the flank against the Magpies. One winger who looks likely to remain sidelined is Matty Taylor who still appears to be recovering from surgery to fix an Achilles problem.

In attack, Dyche could have more options. Sam Vokes did not make the eighteen on New Year`s Day with reports that he was suffering from illness. He too will hopefully have recovered and could be on the bench at least unless Dyche is tempted to give him his first start since picking up a cruciate ligament injury nine months ago.

One player who definitely won`t be in contention is Nathaniel Chalobah. The Chelsea midfielder has now returned to his parent club following a pretty unsuccessful loan spell

Player to watch: Tom Heaton

With an inexperienced back-four and/or defenders playing out of position due to the mounting injury list, Tom Heaton could be vital in keeping Spurs out. He continues to look effective between the sticks and without wanting to test fate rarely makes mistakes. Some of his saves this season have been spectacular and he could be a busy man once again on Monday night.

Tottenham Hotspur Team News:

Both Erik Lamela and Ryan Mason hope to be available in time for the Burnley clash boosting the Spurs midfield options. Lamela missed the 5-3 win over Chelsea on New Year’s Day with a calf injury while Mason was replaced by Mousa Dembele after just 14 minutes at White Hart Lane with a hamstring injury

Player to watch: Harry Kane

It speaks for itself unless they decide to rest him on Monday night! He is at the top of his game and is scoring for fun at the moment. Kane scored a brace in the 5-3 win over Chelsea on New Year`s Day as well as making a couple of assists. He already has a total of 15 goals so far this season and is easily their top goal-scorer.

Team & Tactics:

It is difficult to know what team Dyche will be able to put out on Monday night with all the current injuries. Let`s be clear though, it is going to be a miracle if we can put out the same starting eleven for the seventh game in succession.

If we assume that both Marney and Vokes will have recovered from the bug they were suffering from but that Shackell, Long and Duff remain unavailable then probably the best team we could put out would look something like this

Heaton, Trippier, Keane, Mee, Lafferty, Arfield, Marney, Jones, Boyd, Ings, Barnes

Subs from: Gilks, Reid, Kightly, Wallace, Jutkiewicz, Sordell, Vokes or maybe one or more of the young guns?

Ref Watch:

Roger East will take charge of this clash. His last game involving the Clarets was our 3-3 draw against QPR at Loftus Road last season back in February 2014. Only three yellow cards were handed out that day. This season the Wiltshire referee has featured in 15 games but so far he has only sent one player off. 59 players though (nearly 4/game) have picked up yellow cards.

Match Prediction:

This is a tough one to call but we know from the recent narrow 2-1 defeat at White Hart Lane in the Premier League clash that we can certainly give them a game, The difficulty is knowing what team Spurs will put out and how many of our injured players will have recovered in time. Our team in theory could be pretty makeshift especially in the back four but Spurs may decide to rotate some of their squad players and so give the Clarets a greater chance of victory. Whatever team we put out you can guarantee they will play their hearts out and that team ethic could stand us in good stead. I think that once again there could be plenty of goals but this time Burnley could shade it. I will go with 3-2 to the Clarets

Next Match:

The Clarets embark on probably their most crucial period of the season and points will be vital if they are to have any hopes of surviving the drop. Their next four games all involve clubs fighting against relegation Later we face Crystal Palace at home, Sunderland away and then West Brom at home but first we take on QPR at Turf Moor on Saturday 10th January (Kick-Off: 3pm). The Rs are just two points clear of the Clarets in 16th spot and Burnley could do their survival chances a great deal of good if they could win this vital six-pointer.