The Clarets are on the road on Saturday, but the track is not a long one. They visit Preston a few miles down the lane in an intriguing Easter derby at Deepdale.
Clarets fans will be hoping for an Easter Golden Egg and not a Chucky Egg, after a number of poor performances recently where the keeper and back four seem to have ‘chucked one in` gifting the opposition goals and points.
One member of the back four, Graham Alexander is of course returning to familiar territory and he will be keen to now show he is a true Claret and help to keep out his former club`s attack.
Grezza made 400 appearances for the Lilywhites before being sold to the Clarets back in August 2007.
‘It will be a little bit weird going back having spent so many happy years there,’ Alexander told the Official Website.
‘It was weird playing them here at Turf Moor so to go back to Deepdale having spent so many happy years there it will be even more so.
‘I have to be professional; I’m looking for three points. I think Preston are safe now and obviously we want the points to get into the play-offs.’
The play-offs look like a mountain to climb at the moment, and really only three points in the derby will keep our slim hopes alive.
Despite being only three points off the six placed club, Plymouth we find ourselves in 11th place with a plethora of clubs it seems now fighting for that one 6th place spot.
The bad news for the Clarets is that some of these teams have games in hand and all of them have a better goal difference. The Top Five clubs also now seem to be pulling away with Hull in 5th place already seven points clear of the Clarets.
This is probably the worse time we could play Preston. It is fair to say they have struggled for most of the season until recently and until a few matches ago looked like relegation candidates. They are however now resurgent and have steadily climbed up the table with some impressive performances.
They are currently 16th on 47 points, eight behind the Clarets. They are now probably safe from relegation and the three points are likely to be more important to the Clarets, but they will have to fight to get them with local pride at stake.
On the injury front, Clarets fans are awaiting to hear news on Stan Varga, Andrew Cole and Chris McCann. Varga has a niggling foot problem that flared up in the last match against Wolves and he had to be substituted in the second-half. It is possible he might have needed an injection to keep him going to the end of the season and if so this would mean he would miss the Preston derby.
Steven Caldwell though would be the obvious choice to take his place and some Clarets fans have been surprised that Coyle has sidelined the Captain in recent matches despite being available after sitting out a one match suspension for a double-yellow sending off against Hull at the KC Stadium.
Chris McCann could be available for selection after missing the last three games with a thigh and groin injury and Andrew Cole, who was not in the sixteen for the last Wolves match, could also return after a troublesome calf injury.
Michael Duff continues to make steady progress and played yet again for the Reserves in midweek against Chester. It still looks too early for him to be considered for the local derby though but he does seem close to a return to the first team and could play in April. Steve Jones and Garreth O`Connor who have also nursed injuries in recent times also appear to be available after playing in the reserves in midweek with the Clarets beating Chester City Reserves 1-0.
Steve Jones marked his return from injury by scoring the winner against Chester. The striker hasn’t featured for two months since limping off at Coventry City with knee ligament damage.
Owen Coyle therefore faces a number of selection possibilities depending on the injury situation. One other question could be the selection of the keeper. Kiraly had a mare of a match against Wolves, arguably being at fault for Wolves second goal following a dreadful Carlisle back pass but also spilling their third.
Jensen though also has the spilling disease. He kept his place after making a hash of it at Plymouth but three games later at the KC Stadium, repeated the error giving Kiraly a chance to regain his place.
Owen Coyle might, like Jensen give Kiraly the chance to redeem himself but the keeper situation does need to be looked at closely in the summer.
Mistakes are being made once too often by both keepers at the moment.
A possible team selection could be as follows:
Kiraly, Alexander, Carlisle, Caldwell, Harley, Elliott, James O`Connor, Gudjonsson, Lafferty, Blake, Akinbiyi
Subs: Jensen, Unsworth, Randall, Mahon or Spicer, Cole
Come on you Clarets, time to redeem yourselves after some pretty lacklustre performances of late.
“There probably couldn’t be a better game to pick yourselves up for than a derby against Preston,’
‘Especially given what happened the last time when we all know we should have had three points and circumstances conspired against us.
‘There is plenty of motivation, including last Saturday.
‘So we will go to Preston, be ready for it, positive and out to make amends.
‘Football gives you the opportunity to address a disappointing result in the next game. But they don’t come much tougher at this moment in time than Preston, who are playing well and will be at home.
‘It has got the makings of an absolutely cracking derby again – and we both need the points.’
‘We’ve got an opportunity (tomorrow) to put ourselves right back in the mix,’
“It is a derby game. But it is a game we want to go and win regardless and push on. We are capable of beating anybody.
‘And if we can get these three points then, come Saturday night, we could be bang on course to be really involved at the business end of the season
‘With it being a one o’clock kick-off as well it gives us chance to put some pressure on.
‘There will be plenty of motivation for a variety of reasons.’
Preston North End Team News:
Midfielder, Kevin Nicholls has cartilage damage and could be out for six weeks. Centre half, Liam Chilvers has a ruptured achilles and could be sidelined for months whilst West Brom loan, Craig Beattie has a double hamstring tear.
Player to watch: Richard Chaplow
The former Clarets midfielder, if selected to play might be wanting to prove a point.
Burnley Team News:
Chris McCann could return but Andrew Cole faces a late fitness test.Cole has not trained all week. Caldwell could replace Varga.
Player to watch: Graham Alexander
All eyes wil be on Alexander by both sets of fans. Lest hope he has a good game against his former club.
Last Time We Met
Preston will be hoping for the double after beating the Clarets 3-2 at Turf Moor back in December. Goals by McCann and Lafferty that day were not enough in an explosive game revolving around controversial decisions by the referee. Burnley were also reduced to 9 men after Chris McCann and Joey Gudjonsson were both red carded.
The Clarets did not have much joy either in our last visit to Deepdale last season going down 2-0 at the height of that misreable 19 winless run.
Oh no,Its the Uriah Rennie Show!
2-0 Clarets and about time too!
Barnsley at Turf Moor on the 29th March @3pm KO