Burnley face struggling Nottingham Forest at the City Ground on Tuesday night hoping to maintain their play-offs push.
Burnley refreshed after the weekend break with no FA Cup game to worry about are back on Championship duty on Tuesday night. They travel to the City Ground to play a struggling Nottingham Forest side hoping to keep in contention for a play-offs spot and earn their second double of the season.
Reading beat Bristol City 1-0 at home on Saturday propelling them into 4th spot and pushing Middlesbrough and Hull down into 5th and 6th place respectively with both now on 45 points. This now means Burnley are five points adrift of the play-offs spots having already amassed the psychologically important 40 points. The Clarets are currently 12th, so a win on Tuesday night should see them rise up the table and keep in contention for one of those top six slots.
Forest in contrast are having a torrid season both on and off the pitch. All is not well at the City Grounds and the fans are not happy! They have no money to spend on players, some of their key players could be sold in the transfer window to make ends meet and they are struggling third from bottom in the table already four points adrift of safety. Former Clarets gaffer, Steve Cotterill is under extreme pressure to turn things round and is not a popular figure with Forest fans. They were clearly miffed to lose Billy Davies and would dearly love him to return after the failure of both Steve McClaren and Cotts to raise their spirits. It has not been helped with Davies cleanly indicating in the media he would relish a return. Cotts has now brought in a sidekick with former Doncaster manager Sean O’Driscoll coming on board as first-team coach earlier this month. Some see this as a risky strategy since the club would appear to now have a ready-made successor should Cotterill get the sack.
Forest have won just one game in their last six matches, losing four of them and drawing another. Their home form is even more alarming with just one solitary win in their last six and five defeats. Particularly worrying also is that they have a terrible record of being unable to score having produced a blank sheet now in eight of their last ten league games. It is not much better at the other end with the club having conceded three or more goals in seven of their games this season including of course the 5-1 tonking they received at Turf Moor back in September when Steve McClaren was still in charge.
It is the sort of backdrop therefore where the Clarets need to be on their guard. The Championship is always throwing up shock results and nothing can be taken for granted. If we play like we did against Middlesbrough in our last away game we should have little problem despatching Forest but we all know that sometimes we can fail to turn up. If we do stand a chance of reaching the play-offs, this is exactly the sort of game we need to win to make sure we do! Come on you Clarets!
Nottingham Forest Team News:
The big question is whether centre back, Wes Morgan will still be a Forest player with just two days of the January transfer window remaining. He looks set to join Leicester with the Foxes having now put in their third bid. Leicester City according to Radio Nottingham are expected to complete the signing for around £1m today (Monday 30th Jan)
A less likely transfer could also involve the sale of another centre back, this time their captain Luke Chambers who has been linked with a move to? Yes the Clarets! It is all internet gossip to be honest though so probably there is no element of truth in the speculation. It does though throw up a potentially intriguing situation considering we are playing Forest on the last day of the January transfer window and both clubs will be on the same site at the same time to seal any last minute deals. How bizarre would it be if Chambers came back on the Burnley coach?
Don`t get excited though when you don`t see Chambers on the pitch on Tuesday night. He picked up a red card in their recent 3-0 home defeat to Southampton and now sits out the third of his three match ban.
Left back, Chris Cohen picked up knee ligament damage in the game against local rivals, Derby back in September and has been ruled out for the rest of the season. Cotterill may have a headache with left back, Greg Cunningham on loan from Manchester City also limping off in Forest`s 2-1 defeat away to West Ham in their last game. He picked up a hamstring injury but the Reds are hoping he will be fit in time to play against the Clarets.
Striker, Ishmael Miller is also back in contention after an eight week absence with a hernia. He will be hoping for a start after coming on from the bench in the Hammers game.
Defender, Brendan Moloney is also still sidelined with a knee injury picked up in training last month.
Player to watch: Lee Camp
Clarets fans will be hoping to watch Forest keeper, Lee Camp pick the ball out of the net more than once! He had to five times in the reverse fixture at Turf Moor back in September last year and the Forest defence, probably weakened even further with the loss of Wes Morgan , could once again be prone to leakiness.
Camp, following a loan spell from QPR, joined Forest permanently in July 2009 for a reported fee of about £100,000 plus add-ons. The 27 year old Northern Ireland international previously also played for local rivals and hometown club, Derby County before joining QPR in February 2007 for £300,000. Camp also had loan spells at Burton Albion, Norwich and QPR (twice) whilst on the books at Pride Park.
Burnley Team News:
Martin Paterson (hamstring) and Junior Stanislas (hamstring also) both remain sidelined. Ross Wallace was also substituted at half-time in our last game at home to Derby a week last Saturday. He looked like he had picked up a back injury but there has been no news since so we await confirmation that he is hopefully fit to play.
Wallace was replaced by new loan striker-cum-winger, Josh McQuoid against the Rams and he will now be pushing for a starting place.
With the transfer window still open and at the time of writing just two days to go, all Clarets fans will be hoping there will be no late departures, especially with a number of Premier League clubs reportedly looking at Jay Rodriguez. There are no strong indications of any new signings coming in either although it looks almost certain now that 22 year old left back, Daniel Lafferty will soon be a Burnley player with the local Derry press confirming that a transfer fee has been agreed between the two clubs (The fee is reported to be in the region of £150,000).
Player to watch: Josh McQuoid
McQuoid had a lively debut after coming on from the bench to make his debut for the Clarets against Derby County at Turf Moor. He had only arrived on loan from Millwall the day before and seemed to settle in well. Although mainly recognised as a striker, he can play the wide positions as well and that was the position he played against the Rams. Indeed, he seemed to be comfortable on both flanks.
Hopefully, he will be given the chance to make his full debut against Forest on Tuesday night but whether we shall see him as a striker or wingman remains to be seen.
Team & Tactics:
I have to make one main assumption in my team prediction; that there will be no significant transfers in and out of the club in the two days remaining of the January transfer window. I would certainly hope to see Rodriguez on the pitch come Tuesday night! On the assumption too that Wallace has recovered from his injury and makes the starting eleven, i would suggest the sixteen named could look something like this:
Grant, Trippier, Duff, Edgar, Mee, Wallace, McCann, Marney, McQuoid, Rodriguez, Austin
Subs: Jensen, Easton, Bartley, Treacy, Hines
I expect Josh McQuoid to start with Treacy looking somewhat under par and disinterested at the moment. That would suggest he looks likely to continue playing the wider roles for the moment assuming we have managed to retain Rodriguez at least until the end of the season.
We really need to come out of the blocks aggressively and with attacking intent against a Forest team lacking such confidence. It is probably vital we get the first goal and plough on so I expect the more attacking 4-4-2 formation.
Tyne & Wear referee, Colin Webster is in charge of this one. He last featured in a match involving the Clarets last season in our final game of 2010-11 at home to Cardiff. The game finished 1-1 and three yellow cards were shown that day. In 24 matches so far this season, Webster has handed out a modest 5 red and 60 yellow cards!
The City Ground has been a notorious bogey ground for the Clarets over the years with just one win now in over two decades. We last won there during our promotion season of 2008/9 coming away with a 2-1 victory. This time though Forest are low in confidence, the fans are on their back and the owners and manager are not popular! If we can get our noses in front, Forest could fold with a hostile home crowd behind them baying for blood! I think that could happen unless Burnley fail to turn up and start playing like plonkers. I will err on the cautious side though and go with a modest 2-1 victory to the Clarets.
It`s Peterborough next at home on Saturday 4th February (Kick-Off: 3pm)