Date: 17th September 2009 at 10:40am
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Remco van der Schaaf, now 30 signed a three-year deal with Burnley in July 2008 on a Bosman after leaving Vitesse Arnhem. The midfielder was prominent in the 2008-9 pre-season games and looked to be firmly in Owen Coyle’s plans for the future.

He seemed to be carving a niche for himself as a more defensive midfielder and it was no surprise when he was named in the side for the opening game of that season away to Sheffield Wednesday.

Similar to another player in the starting eleven that day, keeper Diego Penny, the Owls match seems to have been a poison chalice. That day of course we suffered a heavy 4-1 defeat but both Penny and van der Schaaf were not to appear for the Clarets first team again all season.

The former Dutch Under 21 was named on the bench five times during the season although two of these were against Bury and Fulham in the Carling Cup when we could name seven substitutes and he didn’t come on in either game. The other three were Championship League games against Birmingham (H),Coventry(A) and Reading(H) These three matches were played in the month of October 2008 but again van der Schaaf stayed rooted to the bench.

It was becoming obvious that Graham Alexander was also beginning to carve out a new role for himself, moving from right back to a holding midfielder position. It was also obvious he was growing into the role and becoming more and more effective giving van der Schaaf even less opportunity to return to the starting eleven.

It didn’t help either that earlier in the season for a time he was sidelined with an infection keeping him out of contention.

In the end though it was clear he just wasn’t going to make the side and badly needed some competitive games.

He therefore signed on loan for Danish Superliga side Brøndby IF in February 2009, where he stayed until the end of the 2008-09 season. He played 10 games for the Danish club before returning to Turf Moor.

Whilst at Brøndby IF he made some interesting media comments which perhaps throws some light on his situation at Burnley

‘I had missed a large part of the pre-season and wasn’t fit. Still I started in the first league game against Sheffield Wednesday. The coach wanted to be able to field three forwards when we fell behind. When I wasn’t part of the squad for the League Cup game against Tottenham Hotspur we had to talk. I had to prove myself with the reserves the manager said. But I have heard all that before.Playing and training in the Championship was a great experience. They play very intuitively with spectacular goals. They shoot from every possible angle. Often these balls end up in the stands but sometimes one find the back of the net. Great!’

Some comments in the Danish media also suggest that van der Schaaf was hoping eventually for a permanent move to the Danish club whilst still being happy to return to Burnley where he has a contract until the summer of 2011. It is understood Brøndby IF had included an option to buy as part of the loan deal.

It was clear that no deal was forthcoming and with the former PSV Eindhoven man back at Turf Moor for the 2009 close season and with the Clarets preparing for their first season in the Premier League doubts were raised about his future with the club.

Alexander was still the first choice in the holding midfield role and so far van der Schaaf had been uproven at Championship level let alone the Premier League. Owen Coyle though did include him in the squad for some of the pre-season friendlies. He was named on the bench for the first five pre-season friendlies (but then so was everybody else) and he came on in four of these games always around the hour mark.

By the time though that Owen Coyle was honing his squad and thinking about his eighteen for the start of our first season in the top flight for 33 years, it was noticeable that van der Schaaf was once more out of contention. He was not named at all in our last three friendlies against Leeds United, Kilmarnock and St Johnstone.

It has been a similar story so far this season, with van der Schaaf not being named in the eighteen for the first five League games nor the Carling Cup game against Hartlepool.

Remco van der Schaaf seems to be the forgotten man, nobody mentions him anymore, there has been no statement from Owen Coyle about his future and no news of any loans. It is even worse it seems for Remco this season, he did not feature at all in the SoS friendly against Accrington Stanley recently and can’t even seem to make the reserve team. No Remco in the Stiffs games against Everton and Sunderland Reserves so where is he? If he’s injured I dont reacll reading about it, maybe our posters have heard something?

Something will clearly have to be done eventually and it is difficult to see him being named in the new enforced squad of 25 for the start of the next season assuming we stay in the Premier League.

He might be happy to stay at the club under his contract and not play until 2011 but that is not something that Owen Coyle will be happy about. So what will happen now? He could be released from his contract or maybe he could go out on loan again. Nothing might happen at all until the January transfer window but it will be interesting to see if the club make any sort of statement regarding the player between now and the New Year.

In a way he could in theory be the ideal alternative to Alexander in the holding midfield role but it seems clear to me that Owen Coyle is not willing to risk that and presumably just doesn’t think van der Schaaf will be good enough in the Premier League. It is difficult for Clarets fans to comment since we have only had one League game and a handful of friendlies to see how well he can play. Something though doesn’t seem quite right and I hope the club and maybe Owen Coyle clarify the situation soon.

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