Derby County are tomorrow`s visitors to Turf Moor and the Clarets will be keen to get back on track after two disappointing games against Doncaster Rovers at home last Saturday and Barnsley at Oakwell just two days later. Only one point was secured in those two games with the referee the main talking point in both games.
Steve Thompson will return tomorrow after his unfortunate and some would say farcical double-yellow card and sending off in the 0-0 draw against Doncaster. This was quite frankly a crass refereeing decision by Steve ‘Gordon` Bennett that saw the Clarets reduced to ten men with 60 minutes of play remaining. In the end we were lucky to get a point against a side at the time propping up the Championship table.
Thompson however with his automatic one-match suspension was forced to miss out on the Sky televised game against Barnsley on Monday night in a match that also proved controversial.
With the Tykes already 1-0 up after a goal against the run of play in the first half, referee, Nigel Miller and his assistant failed to see that a shot by Campbell-Ryce got a deflection into the net off the arm of Simon Whaley who just for good measure was also a mile offside. The goal after 48 minutes however stood with Owen Coyle and his men clearly incensed and rightly so. They were still arguing and through lack of concentration conceded again three minutes later. 3-0 to Barnsley and it looked game over before Martin Paterson came on like a charged bull and scored a brace. We just couldn`t find the equaliser though and finally lost 3-2.
Thankfully all the results on the following Tuesday night went our way and we somehow kept our fifth spot and now have 30 points from 19 games, four points behind 3rd place Reading.
With the chasing pack catching up though; it is crucial we get three points on the board against Derby this Saturday although it won`t be an easy task. The Rams have had somewhat of an indifferent season though and started off badly, despite being a Premier League side last season. Paul Jewell`s side are currently in 14th spot just five points behind the Clarets. In the last five away games, the Rams have only picked up 4 points and let`s hope they don`t add to that tally tomorrow.
Predicted Team Sheet
Steve Thompson will be available for selection again after his one-match suspension against Barnsley and that could mean a striker dilemma for Owen Coyle. Brace man and hero of Monday night, Martin Paterson must surely have done enough to secure a starting eleven place and I would like to see both Paterson and Thompson start upfront as a true strike pairing rather than have Blake play behind a target man.
Wade Elliott was sidelined with a groin strain and missed the game against the Tykes .We shall have to hope he is now fully recovered and can line up in midfield with McCann, Eagles and Blake. Gudjonsson to me has been struggling recently and I wouldn`t be surprised if he was dropped at least to the bench.
Both Kalvenes (Leg) and van der Schaaf (Virus) should be close to getting back to full fitness but are unlikely to be in contention anyway due to the competition for places in those areas of the park.
I would like to see the following sixteen with the twin strike force of Paterson & Thompson upfront plus a normal back four playing 4-4-2. If Duff was on the bench, we could then revert to 4-1-4-1 if need be and I think this selection would give us the best options and chances of success.
Jensen, Alexander, Carlisle, Caldwell, Jordan, Elliott, McCann, Blake, Eagles, Paterson, Thompson
Subs: Penny, Duff, McDonald, Gudjonsson or Mahon, Akinbiyi or Rodriguez
Burnley Team News:
Thompson returns after a one-match suspension and we await news on the fitness of Wade Elliott who picked up a groin strain against Doncaster and missed the Barnsley match at Oakwell on Monday night. He faces a late fitness test. Christian Kalvenes and Remco van der Schaaf could again miss out.
Player to watch: Martin Paterson
Chomping at the bit after coming on from the bench and scoring his brace on Monday night. He could have hit form at the right time and could cause the Rams defence all sorts of problems.
Derby County Team News:
Both striker Luke Varney and defender James Tomkins look set to make their debuts at Turf Moor.
Varney was signed this week from Charlton, initially on loan. He had been signed ostensibly on an emergency loan until 1 January but the 26-year-old is then expected to become a permanent Rams player on a three-and-a-half year contract worth up to £1.5m.
Tomkins on the other hand came in on loan from West Ham also this week for a five week loan spell.
Player to watch: Luke Varney
Could be a danger and will be keen to impress his new club on his debut.
Last Time We Met
We last played the Rams in their Championship promotion season of 2006/7 and played out a 0-0 draw at Turf Moor just before Christmas 2007. They won 1-0 at Pride Park a month later
Steve Tanner (Somerset)
We simply have to get three points from this game and the pressure could be on the Clarets to do the business. I think we can shade this one 1-0 or 2-1 but it will be a tough one to call.
It`s the big one and a chance to outgun the young gunners at Turf Moor on Tuesday night (2nd December-7:45 pm KO) with the Clarets facing Arsenal in the quarter finals of the Carling Cup. The game will be televised on Sky Sports for those that haven`t got a ticket.
Back to more mundane matters on Saturday though with the Clarets back in Yorkshire for a juicy game against 4th placed Sheffield United at Bramall Lane on the 6th December (3pm kick off)