The Clarets entertain Leeds United at Turf Moor this Saturday hoping to maintain their push for automatic promotion and secure another three points to extend their unbeaten run to fourteen games.
Burnley are in second spot with 70 points now from 35 games. The 3-3 draw against Birmingham at St Andrews on Wednesday night was so nearly a win with the Blues equalising in controversial fashion in the last minute of added time. Nevertheless it was a vital and important point and keeps the Clarets eight points ahead of Derby County in third and ten points ahead of QPR in fourth who also have a one game advantage. Things are looking good for automatic promotion if only we can maintain the momentum. The Clarets are undefeated now in thirteen games and they have yet to lose at home this season. Their next test comes on Saturday in a War of the Roses clash at Turf Moor with Leeds United the visitors.
Leeds have had a turbulent season to say the least both on and off the pitch and even now they await to find out if Massimo Cellino’s proposed takeover will be allowed to proceed under Football League rules considering too that the 57-year-old Italian faces tax evasion charges in his native Italy on 18 March albeit allegations he denies. The club will not know for about another ten days. It was even a more bizarre situation a few backs when Leeds fans didn`t know whether they had a manager or not. At the end of January, McDermott was told he would be sacked by United’s prospective new owner Massimo Cellino, but was then reinstated as boss days later. McDermott has recently called for some stability at the Championship club and says their off-field problems are affecting results. Leeds have blown ‘hot and cold` all season on the pitch and at one point looked strong candidates for a play-offs spot. They have slipped badly though in recent weeks and currently sit in 15th spot on 44 points, 11 points behind sixth placed club, Reading co-incidentally McDermott`s former club. The side has not won any of the last five games, losing three of them. Their last win was 2-1 at Yeovil on 8th February. Recently they have also been leaking goals conceding nine goals in their last two games and have kept only one clean sheet in their last 14 games in all competitions. In terms of away form, that too is poor with only one win in their last eight away games in all competitions. In terms of relative form then Burnley must be clear favourites to win this clash but we certainly can`t be too complacent. Leeds also got a credible draw in their last away outing at Queens Park Rangers. It would be nice though to get the ‘double` over them this season following our 2-1 at Elland Road back in September last year. Another three points would also further keep the pressure on our automatic promotion rivals and depending on other results elsewhere could ensure we move further ahead of both Derby and QPR.
Burnley Team News:
The biggest concern of course at the moment regards the fitness of Danny Ings. He had to be replaced in the midweek game against Birmingham after picking up an ankle injury. Contrary to media reports though, he did not leave the ground on crutches and according to Dyche could still feature in the Leeds match on Saturday. The club will assess the extent of the swelling before making a decision but he did miss training on Thursday and was due to be evaluated further today. Ashley Barnes is on standby hoping to make his first start for the Clarets.
Player to watch: Sam Vokes
Vokes of course had a loan spell at Leeds back in 2009 and all eyes will be on him this Saturday especially if Danny Ings doesn`t recover in time from his ankle injury. If Ings is absent, fans will get the chance to see both Ashley Barnes and Sam Vokes in action from the start and it will be interesting to see if they have developed the same sort of understanding.
Leeds United Team News:
Leeds winger Jimmy Kebe is not expected to shake off illness in time to play.
Defenders Stephen Warnock, Lee Peltier and Scott Wootton along with former Burnley loan winger Cameron Stewart are all in competition to make a start.
Player to watch: Ross McCormack
The 27-year-old striker will certainly be the man to contain. His scoring prowess this season even betters Danny Ings with 24 goals to his name. The impressive Glaswegian was also recently made captain back in January. Like Danny Ings he too has been nominated for the Championship Player of the Year Award.
Team & Tactics:
Sean Dyche could easily have gone for the same starting eleven for the ninth consecutive game away to Birmingham in midweek but elected instead to make one change, bringing in Ross Wallace for his first start since August. Michael Kightly made way forming part of the bench. In truth, Wallace had a pretty lacklustre, mediocre-type of game and it will be interesting to see if the gaffer once again shows faith in the Scotsman. I suspect he will give him one more chance at least. The biggest concern of course surrounds the fitness of Danny Ings and if he doesn`t make it then Ashley Barnes could be ready to make his first start since arriving from Brighton in January. The eighteen then will look something like this
Heaton, Trippier, Duff, Shackell, Mee, Wallace, Jones, Marney, Arfield, Vokes, Ings (or Barnes)
Subs: Cisak, Long, Edgar, Treacy, Stanislas, Kightly, Barnes (or Lafferty)
Wiltshire referee, Simon Hooper gets this War of the Roses clash and it will be his second game this season involving the Clarets. He was also the referee in charge when we beat QPR 2-0 at Turf Moor back in October. Six yellow cards were shown that day and in his 28 games in charge so far this season , four players have been sent off with another 109 picking up yellow cards.
I don`t know why but I feel a bit nervous about this one despite the relative form of the two sides. Nevertheless I will be confident and go for a 3-1 win especially if Danny Ings is fit enough to play.
The Clarets travel to South London for a game against struggling, bottom club, Charlton Athletic at ‘The Valley ‘on Saturday 22nd March (Kick-Off: 3pm)