The Clarets run-in to the end of the season continues with a home game against high-flying Swansea at Turf Moor this Saturday.
There are now just six games left of the season for the Clarets to have one last stab at reaching the play-offs but the omens do not look good after a poor run of form that has secured just one point from the last six games. The performances have been depressing with little to cheer about although at least we battled hard with ten-men against Forest at the City Ground in midweek holding on to the 73rd minute before two late goals sealed our fate. It was never going to be easy though after Marvin Bartley was shown a straight red card in the first-half just past the half-hour mark.
We now face another tough challenge with high-flying Swansea City the visitors to Turf Moor this Saturday. So will Clarets fans have something to sing about at long last? A win will certainly not be easy against Swansea although their form of late has been inconsistent to say the least with two wins, two draws and two defeats in their last six matches. They have also lost their last three games on the road including a 2-1 defeat against struggling Preston at Deepdale in their last outing. Swansea City boss Brendan Rodgers will be hoping he can reverse that trend on Saturday and maintain the Swans promotion hopes. They are currently in 4th spot on 70 points from 41 games and although they have played a game more than the Clarets that is still 13 points more than we have at the moment.
Burnley have slipped to 12th spot now but they do still have a mathematical chance of finishing in the top six but it is a mountain to climb now. Leeds United in 6th spot are now already 7 points clear of the Clarets although we do have a game in hand and still have to play them at Elland Road in our last away game of the season later this month.
Burnley Team News:
Marvin Bartley is of course suspended following his straight red card against Forest in midweek and we await news of our leading goal-scorer, Jay Rodriguez who picked up a thigh injury and did not play at the City Ground.
Chris McCann could be close to a recall. He has played in three recent Reserves games after a 14 month break from competitive action following corrective surgery on his cruciate ligament. McCann scored his first goal at Turf Moor in over two years as he completed a full game since beginning his comeback against Macclesfield Reserves on Monday night. He scored the opening goal in the second-string`s 2-0 victory.
Martin Paterson has also stepped up his training following a recurrent thigh strain and there is still an outside chance he could feature at some point before the end of the season but the Swans game looks too early. Charlie Austin is out for the rest of the season with a dislocated shoulder.
Player to watch: Nathan Delfouneso
It has just simply not been happening for the on-loan Villa striker but you just sense he is going to get on the score-sheet again before the end of the season. He has just one goal so far scored in his debut match away to Hull City last month.
Swansea City Team News:
Brendan Rodgers does not appear to have any fresh injuries or suspensions to worry about. Winger Tom Butler though has been out of first team action for 12 months with a thigh injury but he played recently in a Reserves game earlier this month and looks to be ready for a return soon.
Player to watch: Scott Sinclair
Sinclair signed from Chelsea in August 2010 for £500,000. The 22 year old former England Under 21 International winger has been on top form for the Swans and is their leading goal-scorer by far netting 22 goals in all competitions this season including 17 in the Championship.
Team & Tactics
In view of the marked improvement in battling spirit and confidence against Forest in midweek, I suspect Eddie Howe will be tempted to keep with a similar eighteen for the Swans clash although of course he will be without Marvin Bartley. If Jay Rodriguez has recovered from his thigh injury, I suspect he will be back in the side partnering Delfouneso up front or playing a slightly wider role.
I will also make an educated guess that Alexander will feature at some point in this game, probably a two minute cameo at the end so the home crowd can applaud his 1000th career appearance.
The team will probably look something like this:
Jensen, Mears, Duff, Bikey, Fox, Eagles, Cork, Marney, Elliott, Rodriguez, Delfouneso
Subs: Grant, Duffy, Carlisle, Alexander, Wallace, Thompson, Iwelumo
Sale referee, David Webb is in charge of this clash. The former County Durham referee was promoted to the National List of Referees in 2008 and so far this season has refereed 27 games handing out five red cards and 87 yellows. His last game involving the Clarets was our 1-0 away defeat to Coventry back in November when three yellow cards were shown.
I am hopeful that despite the defeat against Forest in midweek we have turned a corner based on the battling performance and improvement in confidence shown at the City Ground. It is now or never, so let`s dig deep! 2-1 Clarets!
Another home game, the match we have in hand comes up on the night of Tuesday 19th April with Middlesbrough the visitors to Turf Moor (Kick-Off 7:45pm)