Date: 22nd September 2012 at 8:38am
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Burnley play the second of three consecutive away games on Saturday still looking for their first points on the road this season. Derby County are the hosts at Pride Park.

The Pre-amble:

The Clarets have had a somewhat indifferent start to the new season and are still looking for their first points on the road. Can they get any against 12th placed Derby County at Pride Park this Saturday? Burnley suffered a 2-1 midweek defeat against Leicester in the King Power Stadium on Wednesday night and are precariously close to the drop zone. After six league games the Clarets are currently in 19th spot just one point clear of third from bottom club, Charlton. The Championship though is very tight and just one win can propel a club quite a few places up the table. Burnley are still only six points behind sixth placed Middlesbrough who have also played a game more after wiping the smirk off Blackburn Rovers faces at Ewood Park on Friday night . Boro beat the current league leaders 2-1. Burnley have had some good results at Pride Park in recent seasons and we could at long last pick up some points away from home especially if Charlie Austin is fit enough to play .

The Rams are just two points ahead of Burnley and are looking for their first back-to-back win of the season. Nigel Clough`s men though are undefeated at home this season in the Championship and will be a tough test for the Clarets. They will have been buoyed up by their 3-2 home victory over Charlton is midweek and they also thumped Watford 5-1 in the game at Pride Park before that.

Derby County Team News:

Nathan Tyson could return and may be named on the bench. The striker suffered a throat infection and missed the game against Charlton in midweek

Fellow striker, Mason Bennett appears to have recovered from a thigh strain and could be back in contention for a place. The remarkable youngster still only 16 made his first team debut away to Middlesbrough last October aged just 15 years and 99 days old.

Player to watch: Jamie Ward

Always seems to be a controversial player when he faces the Clarets and he will be most remembered for his sending off in our play-offs final against Sheffield United at Wembley back in May 2009 for two handballs. He was also shown red in our game at Pride Park a couple of seasons ago when we came away with a 4-2 victory back in April 2011. The Northern Ireland international signed for Derby for an undisclosed fee following a loan spell at the end of the 2010-11 season penning 2-year contract with the option of a year extension, Ward these days has been converted from a midfielder to a striker and is currently the Rams leading goal scorer with three so far this season including a brace against Charlton in midweek. Jason Shackell will hopefully know him well enough though to keep the 26 year old quiet.

Burnley Team News:

The big hope for all Clarets fans is that leading goal-scorer, Charlie Austin is fit enough to play after missing out on the midweek defeat at Leicester with a bruised hip. He faces a late fitness test

Michael Duff also missed out on Wednesday night after picking up an Achilles injury and he too faces a late fitness test.

Striker, Danny Ings is still sidelined with injury at the moment but is on the road to recovery following a successful operation to fix his torn cartilage. He could return before Christmas.

Player to watch: Jason Shackell

Shackell makes an early return to his former stomping ground to play against the Rams for the first time since signing for the Clarets this summer. He needs to show the Derby fans what they are missing with Burnley`s defence being somewhat leaky of late. The Clarets have conceded 12 goals from 6 league games so far and Shackell will need to use his captaincy skills to get the back four tighter in this clash.

Team & Tactics:

This is a difficult one to call and depends very much on whether Charlie Austin is fit enough to play. If he is, I can`t see Eddie Howe electing to play just Austin up front . That tactic failed miserably in the recent home defeat to Peterborough. Paterson and Austin in 4-4-2 would be a better bet and that would mean we would have to lose a midfielder. Brian Stock made his first Championship start for the Clarets in midweek against Leicester but despite playing reasonably well he could find he returns to the bench should Austin be fit. If Austin fails his late fitness test, we could see Paterson alone up front with Stock keeping his place as a holding midfielder. The other option would be to play 4-4-2 with Vokes partnering Paterson. Duff also faces a late fitness test but I can`t see him making a return to the starting eleven even if he passes the test. David Edgar is likely to continue in the centre of defence along with captain, Jason Shackell.

I think today I will predict the team from two angles. One if Austin is fit and one if he aint! My Austin Fit version would be:

Grant, Trippier, Shackell, Edgar, Mills, Wallace, McCann. Marney, Stanislas, Austin, Paterson

Subs: Jensen, Mee, Duff, Stock, Bartley, Stewart, Vokes

Austin Unfit version? How about :

Grant, Trippier, Shackell, Edgar, Mills, Wallace, Stock, McCann. Marney, Stanislas, Paterson

Subs: Jensen, Mee, Duff, Hewitt, Bartley, Stewart, Vokes. In both cases I won`t be too upset if Stewart gets the nod over Wallace.

Ref Watch:

Oliver Langford is in charge of this clash! The West Midlands referee has handed out one red card and seven yellows in his six games so far this season. Last season he showed a red card every one in four games on average but only a modest 103 yellows from his 40 games. His last game involving the Clarets was last season back in February this year when we beat Barnsley at home 2-0. Only two yellow cards were shown that day

Match Prediction:

Burnley have won four and drawn two of their last six Championship matches against Derby. It would be nice to get some more points against the Rams our first on the road this season but again it won`t be easy although we have won the last two games at Pride Park and also drew the match before that in our promotion season. Burnley have not kept a clean sheet though since the opening day of the season and now face a side scoring for fun at home. The Rams have netted eight times in their last two home games. However this could be an interesting game because Derby have also not been able to keep a clean sheet in any game so far this season. A draw would be a good result although it would be even nicer to sneak victory. I will go with a 1-1 draw.

Next Match:

Burnley play Swindon at the County Ground on the night of Tuesday 25th September (Kick-Off 7:45pm) hoping to progress to the fourth round of the Capital One Cup. Their next league game is a few days later against Millwall at Turf Moor on Saturday 25th September (Kick-Off 3pm)