Date: 22nd May 2011 at 10:52am
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Eddie Howe has been in the news this week stating that he aims to reduce the average age of the squad whilst also hinting that Everton`s young 19 year old Shane Duffy could still be on his radar for next season.

Eddie Howe is reportedly keen to get the average age of Burnley`s squad down this summer which could set the alarm bells ringing for some of our older players. He has already demonstrated his intentions by offering youngsters Alex-Ray Harvey, Dominic Knowles, Wes Fletcher and Alex MacDonald new professional contracts with both Harvey and Knowles having already signed a deal.

So which players could be looking over their shoulder and seeking new clubs for next season?

Chris Iwelumo, 32 and Leon Cort, 31 were signed under former boss Brian Laws and both now look vulnerable. Cort spent most of the season out on loan to Preston but the defender could not save them from relegation. He clearly does not appear to feature in Eddie Howe`s plans and probably the same applies to Iwelumo with the club having already been prepared to release him in the January window.

Former gaffer, Brian Laws also gave new deals to Michael Duff, Clarke Carlisle, Graham Alexander, Wade Elliott and Brian Jensen and all these players are now in their thirties. So far only Wade Elliott is definitely safe having recently secured a new two year deal.

Howe seems to be making his intentions clear not just in promoting his youngsters but also in his signings so far. Charlie Austin is only 21 and Marvin Bartley 24. He also signed the 19 year old centre back, Shane Duffy from Everton on a month loan. Although Duffy did not get much opportunity to shine making just one start and being an unused substitute in four games, Howe is still understood to be interested in signing the player next season, probably on a season-long loan.

It is understood Howe is particularly keen to find a naturally left-footed centre half and according to local media gossip hasn`t dismissed the idea of pursuing Duffy in the summer.

The Burnley gaffer is quoted as saying about the Toffees defender:

“We had a good look at him when he came in, but we haven`t had that conversation with Everton yet,

“I would like to start moving straight away.”

Eddie Howe also confirmed they have some targets for the start of 2011-12

“We are actively looking for players and working hard behind the scenes, but these things will be done at their pace.

“I`m keen to get the squad together as early as I can though.

“I like to have my squad in place for the majority of the season to go on and build, but sometimes it`s taken out of your hands.

“I`d expect there to be some movement at this stage but it`s difficult to say how much.

“I`m keen to bring in some players where we need to.

“I`m sure it will unfold in the next few weeks.”

It will be interesting to see the shape of the squad taking place when the players report back for pre-season training on June 30 and also the average age of the squad by the time the new season kicks off. All Clarets fans will be hoping Jack Cork, still only 21 will have been added to the squad by then but it still all seems up in the air whether we will be able to sign the England under 21 international from Chelsea on a permanent deal or not. Cork certainly seems to have made up his mind he is now ready to leave Stamford Bridge on a permanent basis and has continued to suggest he would be happy to return to Turf Moor.

Cork who is now back at his parent club, Chelsea said recently:

“I just want to play football really. If someone comes in from above and says you`re going to sit on the bench and maybe play here and there, it`s hard because it`s Premier League football but playing every game is what I want to be doing. At Burnley I`ve been doing that and I`ve really enjoyed it so if I can come back here and help to try to push again for promotion I`m happy to do that.

“A lot of fans have come up to me and said I`ve done well and they understand if I want to move on.

“But I like everyone here, they`ve been good to me and I don`t want to let anyone down.

“I`ve had a good couple of years here and I want to try to help the club push on.”

Clarets fans will see it as failure if we don`t succeed in bringing Cork to Turf Moor on a permanent basis so it is disturbing to read in the Lancashire Telegraph, that despite a year in the Premier League we could still be struggling to sign a player of such calibre due to financial constraints and low player budgets.

The LT in an article dated the 13th May wrote:

“Although manager Eddie Howe has been impressed by Cork since he took charge in January, a lot depends on whether the funds for the England Under 21 international are available.

“The Burnley boss may have to move players on before making additions and I understand there has not yet been a concerted attempt to enter into negotiations with Chelsea over Cork.”

In my opinion it will be a disgrace if the Board do not find enough funds to sign Cork after all the hype surrounding season-long loans and the anticipation he would sign a permanent deal in due course. If it is true we could have had the player for £2 million at the start of the season, why did we pfaff about going down the cheaper loan option? Sometimes I despair but then I never did believe the hype that we had gone down stronger in the first place especially when you consider financially stricken clubs like Hull and Portsmouth have not exactly done much worse than the Clarets this season.

Come on just for once dig deep and take a few calculated risks!

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