Date: 2nd May 2011 at 10:05am
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Burnley with their play-offs dreams already shattered play automatic promotion-chasing Cardiff City at Turf Moor on Saturday in the final match of the 2010-11 season. Fans are reminded this is also an early kick-off game (12:45 pm)

The Preamble

It’s been a long, frustrating season for the Clarets with very few highs. Our play-offs hopes were shattered after our loss against Leeds United at Elland Road last Saturday so in our last game of the season at home to Cardiff City all we are playing for is pride and as high a finish as possible. It would be nice to finish in 7th on 70 points above Leeds United but the Bluebirds will not be easy to overcome.

Cardiff City (currently 3rd on 79 points) will most likely be fighting for the second automatic promotion spot on Saturday in a battle with Norwich City (currently 2nd on 80 points). Both clubs also play tonight (Monday 2nd May). It will all be over for Cardiff City if they lose at home to Middlesbrough tonight and Norwich beat Portsmouth at Fratton Park but more than likely it will be another combination effectively meaning Cardiff will need to beat Burnley this Saturday to be assured of automatic promotion.

Can we spoil their party? Can we finish the season on a high? I suppose in the great scheme of things it doesn`t really matter what the result is for the Clarets but a victory would set us up nicely as we look forward to Eddie Howe rebuilding the squad in the summer with a view to mounting another promotion challenge in 2011-12.

Ah well at least there is the Clarets Trust Beer Festival to look forward to after the game!

Burnley Team News:

It will be interesting to see if Martin Paterson makes an appearance after a long lay-off with a persistent thigh problem. He played and scored in the Reserves last match of the season against the Preston second string recently but he is not thought to be 100% ready yet for a return to first team duty. Since the game is of little importance for the Clarets now, Howe may be tempted to at least name him on the bench with a view to bringing him on for a few minutes to lift the crowd ahead of next season.

One player who we definitely won`t see until next season is striker Charlie Austin. He has not played since coming on as a late substitute in the 2-1 away win against Preston back in February. He is currently recovering from a dislocated shoulder.

Dean Marney has also been sidelined for the last three games after picking up a knee injury in the recent game at home to Middlesbrough. With our midfield well-served at the moment with McCann and Cork playing well and Bartley waiting in the wings, Howe will probably take the view it is not worth risking Marney in the last game of the season.

Player to watch: Jack Cork

Unless the club get their finger out and sign Jack Cork permanently in the summer, this could be the last time we see the on-loan Chelsea midfielder play for the Clarets. He has easily been our best player of the season and I expect he will scoop most of the ‘Player of the Year` awards coming up.

Jack Cork has made it plain he is ready to leave Chelsea in the summer and has also indicated he would be prepared to play for the Clarets on a permanent basis. So what are we waiting for? Sign him up!!

Cardiff City Team News:

We shall have to see if the Cardiff City players all come through unscathed in their game on Monday 2nd May at home to Middlesbrough. If there are any injuries or suspensions from that clash we will inform you below this article.

Player to watch: Craig Bellamy

There is no doubt that Bellamy has been the driving force behind Cardiff`s likely promotion to the top flight this season. The creative striker and winger has also scored ten goals so far this season.

Bellamy arrived on a season-long loan from Manchester City in August 2010 and the 31 year old Welsh International was promptly made captain of the team. He can of course expect some stick from the home crowd on Saturday as would be fitting for any former Blackburn Rovers player.

Team & Tactics

With nothing left to play for other than pride, will Howe be tempted to experiment with tactics and formation and maybe even give some of the fringe players and youngsters a go or will he basically go with the team that has been selected for the last three games? With no news of any fresh injuries or suspensions, it would be an easy option for Eddie Howe to go with the same eighteen so if that is the case we can perhaps expect the following line-up:

Jensen, Mears, Duff, Carlisle, Fox, Elliott, Cork, McCann, Eagles, Rodriguez, Iwelumo

Subs: Grant, Carlisle, Alexander, Bartley, Wallace, Thompson (or Paterson), Delfouneso

Chris Iwelumo has continued to disappoint this season and had a pretty woeful game last time out against Leeds United. The trouble is unless Pato is ready to start, we have little alternative up front. Nathan Delfouneso the on-loan striker from Aston Villa has not found his goal-scoring touch either and this will be his last game for the Clarets should he feature. Most Clarets fans would prefer Steven Thompson, but he too seems out of favour other than making late appearances from the bench. Thompson is out of contract in the close season and the strong rumours are he will leave the club and move to Hibs in the summer to be closer to his family.

If Howe does make any changes up front, I suspect he will give Delfouneso one last chance before he returns to Villa.

Match Prediction:

My heart of course wants a Clarets victory but with Cardiff more than likely seeking automatic promotion, it is going to be difficult to contain them. We could put a spanner in their works simply by drawing and I suspect that will be the result in the end so I will go with 2-2!

Next Match

Well that`s it for another season, folks! Hope you have enjoyed our Match Preview and Match Report service. We will be back to report on the pre-season friendlies and of course we will be in full swing again when the new 2011-12 season begins.