Date: 18th January 2012 at 10:38am
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Burnley play Derby County at Turf Moor this Saturday hoping to continue their promotion challenge with the club now just three points off the play-offs positions.

The Pre-amble:

The Clarets will be hoping to build on their impressive run of form recently after seven wins now in nine games. They come into their next game at home to Derby County on Saturday knowing that another three points could see them in the top six. Burnley will also be buoyed up by their impressive performance away to high-flying Middlesbrough at the Riverside last Saturday. Boro were beaten comprehensively 2-0 on their home soil in a game which was Burnley`s best performance of the season. The defeat of Boro, only their second all season at home, saw the Clarets in 10th spot just three points behind sixth-placed club, Hull City.

Derby County too though are also in good form and they are currently in 8th spot with just one more point than the Clarets having played the same number of games. This is certainly a vital six-pointer then for both clubs. It won`t be easy though against the Rams who have won five of their last six Championship games and lost just one. Nigel Clough`s men though are not that impressive away from home having lost four of their last six league games. They have picked up just four points in six games on the road although that did include a 1-0 win in their last away game against Hull City.

Burnley Team News:

Both Martin Paterson and Junior Stanislas face scans this week to evaluate the extent of their hamstring injuries. Both were injured in the game last week at the Riverside and both could now face up to six weeks being sidelined.

Sam Vokes also completed his loan spell on Sunday and is now thought to be back at Molineux. Eddie Howe is understood to be in touch with Wolves gaffer, Mick McCarthy about a possible loan extension but it remains to be seen if anything can be resolved in time for the Derby clash.

Zavon Hines could well be expected to step up to the plate and provide striker cover on the bench along with possibly Alex MacDonald. Danny Ings is expected to play for the Reserves this week but is still thought to be some way away from making his first team debut due to lack of experience at this level. He has yet to make his debut for the Clarets having been sidelined for most of the season injuring his cartilage just a few days after signing from Bournemouth last August.

With Stanislas out injured Treacy could be set for a recall on the wing.

Player to watch: Ben Mee

It has been a good week for Mee. He was regarded the best of our very impressive back four in our last game away to Boro on Saturday. Mee, who had been on a season-long loan, then followed that up by signing a permanent three-and-a-half deal with Burnley until the summer of 2015 after agreeing to leave Manchester City. Hopefully Mee will be able to help keep Robinson & Co at bay this Saturday!

Derby County Team News:

19 year old central defender, Mark O`Brien is out for the rest of the season after damaging his anterior cruciate ligaments in training last month.

Striker, Steven Davies though has been given clearance to play in competitive games after being sidelined since Mid October with a skull fracture. The injury required surgery but he has been back in training since November waiting for medical clearance to play. He will however be required to wear protective headwear and it is unlikely he will go straight back into the first team despite still being the Rams second-highest goal scorer so far this season.

Sunderland`s 20 year old striker, Ryan Noble is also expected to join Derby County in a one-month loan deal this week and could feature against the Clarets.

Player to watch: Theo Robinson

Robinson, who will be 22 this Sunday, is the Rams top goal-scorer this season with 8 goals, six of them scored in the Championship. The striker joined on a permanent deal from Millwall in the summer following a three-month loan spell.

Team & Tactics:

Our potential line-up will certainly be an interesting one to debate with Martin Paterson and Junior Stanislas now both sidelined with hamstring injuries. Sam Vokes loan spell is also now at an end, so he will not be an option in attack unless Eddie Howe can negotiate an extension with Mick McCarthy this week.

Unless there are any transfer developments during the week, I suspect the line up will look something like this:

Grant, Trippier, Duff, Edgar, Mee, Wallace, Marney, McCann, Treacy, Rodriguez, Austin.

Subs: Jensen, Easton, Bartley, Hines, MacDonald

We could play the normal 4-4-2 or possibly 4-4-1-1 again this time with Austin up front with Jay Rod just behind him .

Ref Watch:

Premier League Gloucestershire referee Lee Probert is in charge of this one. His last game involving the Clarets was in January 2010 when he refereed our top flight game against Manchester United at Old Trafford. His card count for this season from 21 games so far comes to four reds and 70 yellows.

Match Prediction:

If we play like we did against Boro, it could well be another three points but we know what this Championship can throw up and you can`t take anything for granted. The Rams will be no pushovers but if we can win this one, we might well be in the play-offs spots come the final whistle. The fact we will be without Pato and Stanisalas is a worry but I still think we can beat them so I will go with a 2-1 victory for the Clarets.

Next Match:

We will not be in action again after this game until Tuesday 31st January when we travel to the City ground to play Nottingham Forest (Kick-Off 7:45pm). Next weekend is FA Cup time and of course we are no longer in the competition.