The Clarets end of season run-in continues with a home game against Tony Mowbray`s Middlesbrough at Turf Moor on Tuesday night.
The games are coming thick and fast this month and on Tuesday night we play our game in hand against Middlesbrough at Turf Moor. The Clarets will have been buoyed by their first victory in seven games following their 2-1 home win against high-flying Swansea City on Saturday but now they have to maintain the momentum if we are to stand any chance of still reaching the play-offs.
Anything less than three-points on Tuesday night and it would almost certainly be season over barring a mathematical miracle in the four games then remaining.
Burnley are currently 11th in the table and could reduce 6th placed club. Leeds United’s lead to just two points if we secure victory against Tony Mowbray`s men. If we do win, our penultimate game of the season away to Leeds at Elland Road at the end of this month could be a massive six-pointer and decide our fate.
Middlesbrough were firm favourites for promotion at the start of the season but 2010-11has turned out to be somewhat of a disaster for them. The Riverside club struggled in the earlier part of the season and back in October with the club in 20th spot and relegation starting them in the face, then manager, Gordon Strachan decided to call it a day, leaving by mutual consent and even tearing up his own contract to avoid the club having to pay him compensation.
Tony Mowbray, a former Boro player replaced Strachan. The ex-Hibernian, West Brom and Celtic gaffer took over the Riverside club in October 2010 and has at least steadied the ship without being spectacular. Boro are now in 18th place with 50 points. That is ten points clear of the drop zone and also ten points behind the Clarets!
They have not lost in seven games picking up three wins and four draws over that period. Boro have also won one and drawn two of their last three away games so Burnley will need to spoil that little run if we are to keep our play-offs hopes on track.
Come on you Clarets, keep our season alive and make the last four games of 2010-11 after Tuesday night all the more interesting!
Burnley Team News:
There is no news of any fresh injury concerns for Eddie Howe
Marvin Bartley is of course suspended following his straight red card against Forest and sits out the second of his three match ban.
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 last week. He scored the opening goal in the second-string`s 2-0 victory.
There is still an outside chance that Martin Paterson could still feature at some point before the end of the season but nobody expects to see him in the eighteen on Tuesday night. Charlie Austin is out for the rest of the season with a dislocated shoulder.
Player to watch: Chris Eagles
When Eagles plays at his best, so do the team! On Saturday he was arguably our best player, picking up the fans texted Man of the Match award. He was back on form after a spate of woeful, lacklustre games. He might not have been at his best against Swansea but if he continues to improve against Boro, he could be instrumental in securing our second win in succession.
Middlesbrough Team News:
Middlesbrough boss Tony Mowbray will be without striker Marvin Emnes for this clash.
The Dutchman sits out the third of his three-match ban after being charged with violent conduct by the Football Association following an incident Boro`s recent 2-1 victory at Sheffield United.
Central defender, Seb Hines broke his jaw in two places during the 3-3 draw against Ipswich at Portman Road recently. In the same match, midfielder Merouane Zemmama suffered a hamstring injury and both players are now likely to miss the rest of the season.
Midfielder Nicky Bailey is also not expected to figure again before the end of the campaign due to an ankle ligament injury.
Jonathan Franks and Luke Williams (both ankle), Leroy Lita and Justin Hoyte (both hamstring) and Jason Steele (torn side muscle) also remain on the sidelines and look unlikely to feature on Tuesday night.
Player to watch: Scott McDonald
27 year old Australian international striker, Scott McDonald is Boro`s leading goal scorer this season with 11 goals to his credit so far including nine in the Championship. He scores at a rate of one goal per 3-4 games.
Celtic sold McDonald to Middlesbrough for a reported £3.5 million in January 2010 when he rejoined former Buoys gaffer, Gordon Strachan. McDonald also played under Strachan at Southampton.
Team & Tactics
Eddie Howe I suspect will keep faith with the side that secured their first win in seven games against Swansea and name an unchanged eighteen for the Boro clash so expect the line-up to be:
Jensen, Mears, Duff, Bikey, Fox, Eagles, Cork, Marney, Elliott, Rodriguez, Delfouneso
Subs: Grant, Duffy, Carlisle, Alexander, Wallace, Thompson, Iwelumo
The only change he might be considering could be to drop Delfouneso. The on-loan Villa striker is struggling to find the back of the net and our style of play just doesn`t seem to suit him. He looks like the sort of player who wants the ball played to his feet rather than have to cope with long ball punts up to him. Howe may be tempted to start Iwelumo or even Thompson instead.
West Yorkshire referee, Mark Haywood is in charge of this one. He commenced his refereeing career in West Yorkshire in 1993 progressing through the West Yorkshire and Northern Premier Leagues to reach the National List of assistant referees in 2002. After four more seasons he was again promoted in 2006, to the National List of referees.
He has featured in 32 games this season at Championship and lower league level handing out just two red cards and 60 yellows. His last game featuring the Clarets was our 2-1 win at home to Derby County back in November last year. He showed two yellow cards that day.
I think we may have turned a corner following our first win in seven games after beating Swansea City at home last Saturday. We could be on fire with confidence high again. I hope so and I hope we can keep our play-offs hopes alive for the remaining four matches. 3-0 Clarets! Why not!!!
We face a trip to Pride Park to play Derby County on Saturday 23rd April (Kick-Off 3pm)