Date: 24th October 2011 at 9:33am
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The Clarets take on Cardiff City on their home soil in the Carling Cup on Tuesday night hoping to progress to the quarter final stage.

The Pre-amble:

Burnley take a break from their Championship campaign on Tuesday night to focus on the Carling Cup. They travel to the Cardiff City Stadium hoping to stop the Bluebirds singing and book a quarter final place.

Until Saturday things looked bleak for the Clarets. We were simply not playing well and had lost two games on the bounce at home to Reading and away to Barnsley. The game at Oakwell was the first of a sequence of three consecutive away games and the fear was we could be going to Cardiff on a low ebb with confidence rocked. We then however had our spirits lifted after coming from 1-0 down at the Ricoh Arena on Saturday to beat Coventry 2-1. Hopefully we can maintain our new found form and follow up Saturday`s victory with another away win at Cardiff.

Our confidence could be sky high if we find ourselves in the hat for the Carling Cup quarter final stage and two consecutive wins on the road would certainly set us up nicely for our next Championship challenge on Saturday with local rivals, Blackpool the visitors to Turf Moor.

Cardiff though will be no pushover. Malky Mackay`s men have had a good start to their Championship campaign although of late have been a little inconsistent. They are currently in 8th spot just one point off the play-offs places. In their last six games though they have lost 2, won 2 and drawn 2. In terms of their home form however they have only lost one of their last six matches in the Cardiff City Stadium winning three and drawing another two.

Burnley have already played the Bluebirds this season in the Championship back in August but that game was at home and even then we had to be content with a 1-1 draw so we know what we will be up against on Tuesday night.

Cardiff`s path to the 4th round stage of the Carling Cup competition has been somewhat more arduous than Burnley`s. We have had a relatively easy ride so far having played League 2 Burton Albion and Barnet at home in the earlier stages followed by yet another home tie in the third round against League 1 MK Dons. They may have been easy games on paper but in practice we struggled to be convincing. However in the end we won all three so here we are our toughest challenge yet!

The Bluebirds in contrast had a tricky away game against League 2, Oxford United in the first round but avoided any banana skins after coming away with a 3-1 victory despite needing extra time to do it. It was a much tougher challenge in the second round with high-flying League 1 Huddersfield the visitors. That game too went into extra time after Cardiff surrendered a 2-0 lead in a thrilling game that finished 3-3 after 90 minutes. Two goals by Cardiff in extra time though completed a 5-3 victory.

The third round was another thriller with the Bluebirds pitched against Championship rivals, Leicester City at home. Remarkably once again the match would go into extra time with the score 2-2 after 90 minutes. With neither side able to get the winning goal in extra time, it had to be decided on penalties and Cardiff came through that ordeal winning 7-6. Both sets of fans were probably underwhelmed when the fourth round draw was made pitching the two clubs together but now we just have to get on with it and hope it`s the Clarets who will still be in the competition come the final whistle on Tuesday night.

Cardiff City Team News:

23 year old French striker, Rudy Gestede remains sidelined with a hamstring injury and will need a few weeks to recover before being available for selection. Kenny Miller was forced off the field with a head injury after colliding with team-mate Ben Turner in Cardiff`s last game at home to Barnsley on Saturday. News is awaited on the chances of Miller playing on Tuesday night. His head needed stitches after the clash and he is now scheduled for a hospital check-up before a decision is made.

Player to watch: Don Cowie

The 28 year old Scotland international midfielder is Cardiff`s leading goal scorer this season with six goals in all competitions including three in the Carling Cup.

Cowie signed from Watford in July 2011 on a three-year contract and has previously also played for Ross County and Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

Burnley Team News:

Jay Rodriguez was thought to have picked up a broken nose in the Championship victory against Coventry at the Ricoh on Saturday but the latest news is now more encouraging. The nose needed one stitch but there is no broken bone and he now faces a late fitness test to see if he is fit enough to play on Tuesday night.

Brian Jensen (groin), Danny Ings (torn cartilage), Martin Paterson (thigh) and Michael Duff (knee) are all still sidelined. Duff, currently back in training along with Martin Paterson is thought to be about two weeks away from full fitness.

Junior Stanislas is also out due to being cup-tied

Player to watch: Zavon Hines

Hines has been chomping at the bit for a start for sometime He has yet to make his full debut in the Championship and his only start so far since signing from West Ham was in the last round of the Carling Cup against MK Dons at Turf Moor. Other than that, he has had to be content with a place on the bench and making the odd cameo appearance.

With Rodriguez potentially sidelined with an injured nose, this could be the chance for Hines to make an impression and justify the hype surrounding his move to Turf Moor. On the few occasions, I have seen him play, he does seem to offer something different up front playing with some pace and directness. It would certainly be interesting to see what sort of partnership he could develop with Charlie Austin.

Team & Tactics

Jay Rodriguez will be nursing a badly bruised and swollen nose but it is at least not broken as first feared. He is due a late fitness test but personally I would still rest him and give Zavon Hines a chance to shine. There is also an option to play both with Jay Rodriguez playing a wider role

The time for experimentation though is over with a Carling Cup Quarter Final place at stake so I hope we stick with the basic 4-4-2 formation and not try any fancy tactics involving strikers playing out wide and wingmen playing in the hole. At least with Stanislas cup tied, Howe would have few options in that department anyway.

Howe might also be tempted to start Ben Mee, but some thought he might do that for the Coventry City game last Saturday. Instead David Edgar retained his place and indeed although Ben Mee did come on from the bench it was Andre Amougou who made way. I would certainly not drop Amougou who was easily our best defender on Saturday but there is still some doubt about Edgar`s performances of late. It would not be unexpected if Ben Mee get a start on Tuesday night but I suspect Howe will remain loyal to Edgar.

This would be my predicted line-up then:

Grant, Trippier, Edgar, Amougou, Easton, Treacy, McCann, Bartley, Wallace, Hines, Austin

Subs: Stewart, Mee, Marney, MacDonald, Rodriguez (if fit) and a couple of young guns!

Ref Watch:

Cheshunt referee, Darren Deadman will be the man in charge for this one. I will resist the temptation to make any jokes about that name! Deadman has refereed 16 games so far this season handing out a quite prolific 65 yellows and 4 reds. In six of those games the card count has been 5 or more with the highest being 9 yellow cards in the Championship game between Portsmouth and Blackpool only last month. His last game in charge of a match involving the Clarets was last season in our 1-0 away win against Hull City when only two yellow cards were shown that day.

Match Prediction:

Had we not come away with an away win on Saturday and gone into this clash having lost three on the bounce, I would not have rated our chances of a victory against Cardiff on their home soil very highly. Hopefully the win means we have turned a corner and our confidence has returned. It will not be easy but I think we can shade victory against the Bluebirds.

Cardiff`s recent games have certainly been high scoring. In their last three games fans have been entertained to a goal fest of 19! What chance a 3-2 Clarets victory this time round?

Next Match:

We return to the Championship campaign on Saturday (29th October) with a juicy home game against local rivals Blackpool in a live televised match which kicks-off late at 5:20pm