Doncaster Rovers are the visitors to Turf Moor on Tuesday night and the Clarets have to shake off recent disappointments getting back to winning ways after now going four matches without victory
The Clarets have now played four games without winning a match since being thumped by Reading 4-0 in their last home game. Burnley have since played three away games on the trot. They narrowly lost to Villa 2-1 in the Carling Cup before picking up a well-earned point away to current League leaders, QPR. It was their last game though that rang alarm bells. They gave away a two goal lead against Norwich City at Carrow Road last Saturday having to be content with a point following a woeful second-half performance. That disappointment has to be quickly forgotten and it is imperative we get back on track with a win against Doncaster Rovers at Turf Moor on Tuesday night.
Our dream of reaching the Premier League again at our first attempt looks to have taken a few knocks recently. We certainly can`t afford to lose at home a la Reading and we seem incapable of putting games to bed on the road. Once again we now have two games at home coming up on the trot to try and get back on track. Doncaster Rovers on Tuesday night is followed by Watford on the Saturday. This is the third time this has happened this season and each time we have failed to get maximum points. Beat Hull, Draw against lowly Bristol City. Beat Barnsley, lose to Reading so what lies in store now? Nothing less than ‘Beat Donny and Watford` will do. We can`t afford any more slip ups at home with our away form particularly worrying. The Clarets are already 11 eleven points behind QPR in top spot and that could be thirteen if second-place Cardiff beat Swansea at home in Sunday`s Welsh derby game to go above the Rs The automatic promotion places seem to get further and further away and we are now just one of a number of ‘also-rans` vying for a top six position. We are currently ninth just two points behind sixth placed Ipswich. We simply have to start being consistent and go on a bit of a run if we are to start standing out from a host of clubs around us.
Doncaster Rovers is one such club and they currently have the same number of points as the Clarets. They are in 12th spot with the Clarets above them in 9th purely on goal difference. We currently have a five goal advantage so let`s hope that has been significantly extended by the time of the final whistle on Tuesday night. Rovers` away form has been inconsistent but at least unlike Burnley they have actually won on the road and in fact have picked up two victories and drawn one of their seven away games in the league. They have lost four but two of those were against the current top two clubs, QPR (3-0) and Cardiff (4-0).
Doncaster will though have been disappointed to have come out losers by one goal in a seven goal thriller at the Madejski Stadium in their last away match. Burnley are clearly not the only club to lose a two goal lead on the road. Rovers were leading 3-1 against Reading after 50 minutes but three goals by the Royals with the last coming in the 88th minute must have knocked them sideways although they did follow that up with a 2-1 home win against Millwall on Saturday. Let`s hope we can recover too!
This will be an interesting clash with Brian Law`s side up against Sean O`Driscoll`s men. O`Driscoll of course was at one time a favourite to replace Owen Coyle following the Scot`s Judas act back in January. Time for Clarets fans to compare notes on the different styles of play perhaps?
Burnley Team News:
Andre Bikey could be sidelined. He picked up a rib injury in the Millwall game last month but looked to have recovered. However he was not in the eighteen for the Norwich game last Saturday and it was later reported that he was suffering from a recurrence of the injury.
Tyrone Mears also looked to be struggling with an injury in the second half at Carrow Road so we anxiously await news of his fitness.
Other than that there does not appear to be news of any other injury concerns for Brian Laws except of course for Chris McCann who is on the long-term casualty list.
Player to watch: Martin Paterson
Our leading goal-scorer this season, Chris Iwelumo has the habit of scoring at home so it will be interesting to see if Martin Paterson returns to the bench on Tuesday night despite scoring a brace against Norwich.
Pato got the nod ahead of Iwelumo in the starting eleven against Norwich, his first start since the home game against Preston back in early September. It was also interesting to note that finally Paterson was used as an out-and-out striker rather than playing in the wider role. That was the first time this season and boy did it work! Surely we have to give Pato a regular starting place now and surely it is time to try something different.
Everybody knows I would love to see Pato partner Iwelumo up front but whether that ever happens remains to be seen.
Doncaster Rovers Team News:
One player we don`t have to worry about is striker, Billy Sharp. Sharp snubbed Brian Laws in the summer in favour of a move to Doncaster Rovers but is now out injured. He is currently their leading goal scorer with six league goals to his credit and is in 11th place in the Npower Championship Top Scorers table.
However he will now be out for at least six weeks with a torn hamstring after picking up the injury against former club Sheffield United last month.
Player to watch: David Healy
Doncaster may be without leading goal scorer, Billy Sharp who is sidelined with a hamstring injury but now they have David Healy instead. The Sunderland striker signed for Doncaster Rovers on a one-month loan deal last week and promptly made his debut for Donny scoring their winning goal in the 2-1 victory against Millwall at the Keepmoat last Saturday.
The 31-year-old Northern Ireland international was signed by Roy Keane in August 2008, but has not featured this season for Steve Bruce’s side. Healy, despite having scored just one goal in the last 19 months before joining Doncaster has a career record at club level of 92 in 378 games so will need to be watched.
Team & Tactics
Subject to hearing news on the injury front regarding Bikey and Mears, I suspect Brian Laws will keep faith with the team that faced Norwich despite the disappointment of the second half and the loss of a two goal lead.
There could be some anguish for Laws deciding between Paterson and Iwelumo but he does have options. He could for example drop Rodriguez to the bench after an indifferent game against the Canaries. Both Iwelumo and Paterson could feature although it is likely Pato will get the wider role again rather than partner Iwelumo up front in 4-4-2. Laws though tends to show loyalty to players who performed well in their previous game and putting aside the horrors of the second-half display against Norwich, I suspect the eighteen could be virtually the same. Alexander though could be dropped back to the bench with Jack Cork given a chance to return in midfield. Grezza was a bit of a liability against the Canaries and we badly miss Cork`s pace and influence.
Expect the following line-up or similar depending on the injury situation.
Grant, Mears, Duff, Carlisle, Cork, Eagles, Elliott, Marney, Rodriguez, Paterson
Subs: Jenson, Cort, Edgar, Alexander, Wallace, Iwelumo, Thompson
Derbyshire referee, Rob Shoebridge is in charge of this clash. He has just completed his second season as a National List referee. He started refereeing when he was 13 years of age and progressed through the Central Midlands and Northern Premier Leagues to reach the National List of assistant referees in 2003. He has featured in 12 games this season at Championship level or below handing out 2 red cards and 22 yellows.
Providing we have no hangovers from the disappointment of giving away a two goal lead and losing two points at Carrow Road last Saturday, I fully expect the Clarets to win this one and I hope convincingly. I have a sneaky feeling we are going to bounce back in style. 4-0 Clarets!
We face Watford at home this Saturday (13th November 3pm Kick-Off) in another game with little difference between the two sides in terms of league position and points. It could change significantly by Saturday but at the moment both sides are currently on the same number of points with Watford behind the Clarets on goal difference. Burnley currently in 9th spot have a two-goal advantage over Watford in 11th.