Date: 8th April 2012 at 1:40pm
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With the end of the season fast approaching, Burnley take on bottom club Doncaster Rovers at the Keepmoat this Easter Monday.

The Pre-amble:

The Clarets have just five games of the season remaining and next up they complete their Easter schedule with an away trip to the Keepmoat to play struggling, relegation-threatened, Doncaster Rovers on Easter Monday.

Burnley fans were encouraged by the Clarets hard fought victory over promotion-chasing Brighton at Turf Moor on Good Friday. Brighton were not a pretty side to watch and their tactics left a lot to be desired with some vicious tackling and poor discipline. Nevertheless, our 1-0 victory and our first home win in five matches will have inspired confidence and lifted spirits.

The victory against the Seagulls lifted the Clarets to 14th spot after the weekend games and we now have 56 points. With Burnley now eight points behind sixth placed club, Cardiff and with fifteen points still to play for, some Clarets fans are still dreaming of a late surge and a play-offs miracle. Realistically though a more modest Top 10 finish is more on the cards if we continue to play with good consistency.

We certainly have a great chance to come away with yet another away win on Easter Monday. Doncaster Rovers have had a torrid season and have fast become the Championship whipping boys!

They are propping up the league in bottom place and are already eight points adrift of safety with only a mathematical chance of avoiding relegation. Poor Donny`s last win came nine games ago when they beat Forest 2-1 at home. They have been unable to keep a clean sheet since and indeed have now racked up 13 games unable to keep the opposition from scoring. Teams score for fun against Dean Saunders men and they already have a horrific goal difference of minus 36 at the moment which is by far the worst in the Championship. Rovers are certainly in a predicament despite having brought in some high-profile names such as Piquionne, Diouf and Chimbonda!

Danny Ings and Charlie Austin will hopefully have a field day against the leaky Donny defence. Should we beat Donny we will pick up yet another double, our fourth of the season! In the reverse fixture at Turf Moor back in December we convincingly beat them 3-0

Doncaster Rovers Team News:

Doncaster Rovers have a few recognised defenders with injury problems. Shelton Martis is however back in training following specialist advice last week and could be in contention. George Friend too appears to be fully fit after picking up a knee ligament injury. He was named on the bench in the 4-0 defeat away to Leicester. Former Sheffield Wednesday defender, Tommy Spurr though has broken bones in his hand and following surgery will now miss the rest of the season.

Midfielder, Martin Woods has a swollen knee and could be doubtful whilst striker, Habib Bamogo could be close to a return after picking up a hamstring injury in the home defeat to Leeds back in February.

Player to watch: Carl Ikeme

The Donny keeper on loan from Wolves must be hoping the season ends quickly so he can return to Molineux. He recently signed a loan extension until the end of the season but with Doncaster`s woeful defence and clean sheet record, he must surely be playing with some trepidation every game. Leicester managed to put four past him on Saturday in their 4-0 victory on home soil and previous to that in their last home game, the unfortunate keeper had to pick the ball out of the net three times after Birmingham secured a comfortable 3-1 victory at the Keepmoat.

Seven goals conceded in two games? Come on you Clarets.

Ikeme came though Wolves academy as a youth signing his first professional deal in 2003. Since that time though the 25 year old, English-born Nigerian has played just 13 times for Wolves spending most of his time on their books out on loan. He has fast become a loan journeyman in fact and can list the following clubs on his CV-Accrington Stanley, Stockport County, Charlton Athletic, Sheffield United, QPR, Leicester City, Middlesbrough as well as his current club, Doncaster! He is currently in his second loan spell at the Keepmoat having signed for them in early March this year initially for one month.

Burnley Team News:

Marvin Bartley is the latest to pick up an injury. He left the pitch against Brighton on Good Friday with what was thought to be a cramp problem. However it could actually prove to be a hamstring pull and news is awaited but he remains a doubt for the Easter Monday clash.

‘Marvin felt it was cramp and that’s why he was stretched on the pitch,’ Howe said.

‘If he felt it was a pull we’d have taken him off straight away. We’re not sure whether it’s cramp or a pull so we’ll wait and see.’

Ben Mee looks set to miss the rest of the season having picked up a slight non-serious fracture in his back and with Daniel Lafferty still struggling with a hamstring injury it looks like Howe will once again have to name Ross Wallace as a makeshift left-back.

Jay Rodriguez (groin/hip injury) and Martin Paterson (hamstring) look likely to remain sidelined so the twin strike threat will be provided by Ings and Austin. Austin too also suffered a painful blow to the ribs against the Seagulls but it is understood he is expected to be fit.

Even the young guns, now being tried by Eddie Howe on the bench have not totally escaped! Exciting prospect, 17 year old Cameron Howieson missed the Brighton game having picked up an illness.

With injuries piling up, Howe explained the absence of Howieson from the squad on Friday.

‘Cameron was ill today and that’s why he didn’t take his place on the bench, but it was good to get Stevie (Hewitt) some game time”

Hopefully Howieson will have recovered in time for the Easter Monday game

Player to watch: Dean Marney

I would say Dean Marney is probably the most improved player of the season. Despite a shaky start and early criticism, he has still managed to convince a number of sceptical Clarets fans of his abilities having also picked up a number of ‘Man of the Match` awards. He looks at home either as a central midfielder or as a holding midfielder and has been one of most effective players in the engine room this season.

He is a candidate on most people`s list for ‘Player of the Season` although others are more likely to win the award. Let`s hope he continues to impress against Donny on Easter Monday.

Team & Tactics:

Eddie Howe has a number of injury concerns and he certainly faces a few headaches with his team selection. Once again until we hear confirmation on who is fit and who is not fit to play, a team prediction is somewhat difficult.

Assuming the worst case scenario and we also lose Bartley, the sixteen could look something like this:

Grant, Trippier, Duff, Edgar, Wallace, Stanislas, McCann, Marney, McQuoid, Ings, Austin

Substitutes: Jensen, Hewitt, Howieson, McCartan, Fletcher.

Yep, that is right FOUR young guns on the bench because basically there is no other option!

Eddie Howe said recently concerning the injury crisis:

‘We have serious injury problems for Monday, but we will see who we have and whether we need to call up some more youth team players, but at this stage of the season and with our current league position it’s not the end of the world and it’s giving the fans a taste of what the future is going to be about.’

I suspect some fans might be a little impatient having to wait so long for potential success and on the flip-side of the coin , it`s probably just as well our season is effectively over because had we still been going for a play-offs spot our current position would have been a disaster! The injury crisis and lack of squad cover could have jeopardised our chances. It is now when you see what underinvestment in a squad could lead to as the season comes to a close and injuries and tiredness begin to take over.

Ref Watch:

County Durham referee, Nigel Miller gets this one!! He last featured in a match involving the Clarets this season when we thumped a very poor Ipswich Town side 4-0 at Turf Moor back in December 2011. Only one card was shown that day and indeed Miller is not as prolific as some referees in dishing out the cards per se. This season, in his 36 games so far only 3 players have been sent off after seeing red. His yellow card tally this season is 82, less than three per game!

Match Prediction:

Something tells me we are going to finish the season on a high starting with a 2-0 victory at the Keepmoat. Let`s face it we should be able to beat a team stuck firmly at the bottom of the Championship with no win in eight and no clean sheet in thirteen games plus a horrendous goal difference of minus 36 goals!

Next Match:

The countdown to the end of the season is underway and after Donny we will have just four matches to play starting with a home game against relegation-threatened, Coventry City on Saturday 14th April (3pm Kick-Off)