The Clarets return to Championship duty this Saturday with a local derby against struggling Preston North End at Deepdale.
Burnley will be seeking their fourth League away win on the road and their third double this season when they face struggling Preston North End at Deepdale this Saturday.
In a remarkable match at Turf Moor earlier in the season , Burnley were pants for about the first 80 minutes of the game and it looked like curtains for the Clarets with Preston leading 3-1 and only six minutes to play. Preston though were then reduced to ten-men and Burnley went ballistic scoring three goals in six minutes to finish up winning 4-3. Can we now go one better and complete the double over the bottom club?
The Clarets at the time of writing were in 8th spot six points off the play-offs but with a game in hand over 6th placed club, Leeds United. Burnley though are on FA Cup 5th round duty this week and play West Ham away on Monday night with no midweek league game. By the time we play, Preston we could have dropped to 11th place if results go against us but we will then have one or two games advantage over our promotion rivals.
The game against Preston will be our fourth consecutive away game on the road and on paper at least potentially our easiest.
Both clubs have had a managerial change in recent times with Eddie Howe of course replacing Brian Laws at Burnley with Phil Brown taking over the reins at Deepdale replacing Darren Ferguson. Howe though is having the better of things at the moment with only one League defeat in six games. He has also given the Clarets new found belief on the road with two wins and two draws in their last five away games.
You have to contrast that with Phil Brown who has yet to see his side get a win. They are firmly rooted at the foot of the Championship table with 23 points from 31 games. Even if they manage to beat high-flying Nottingham Forest at the City Ground on Tuesday night, they will still be 21 points behind the Clarets and will have played a game more before they face us on Saturday.
Preston have not won now in ten league games and have only won one of their last six home games. We really ought to be able to turn the screw against them on Saturday.
The Clarets though will need to be on their guard, anything can happen in a derby and we have to make sure it happens to Preston and not us and that we come away with three points to keep our promotion momentum going.
Preston North End Team News:
One player who won`t be eligible to play against us is our centre back, Leon Cort currently enjoying a loan spell at Deepdale and by all accounts doing pretty well.
19 year old full back, Conor McLaughlin is out for six-eight months following ankle surgery in early February. He fractured his left fibula and dislocated his ankle in Preston`s recent game at home to Bristol City.
Striker Iain Hume has been nursing a hamstring injury but is edging closer to full fitness and could play against Forest on Tuesday night or if not be fit enough to be in the team to play the Clarets.
Midfielder Paul Coutts and forward Chris Brown were both hoping to be passed fit for Preston`s last game away to QPR but did not even make the eighteen, so it remains to be seen if Phil Brown gives a run out this week.
Player to watch: Keith Treacy
Preston`s leading goal scorer for the season is still Jon Parkin with seven goals but we won`t have to worry about him on Saturday. He left the club in the January window signing for Cardiff City on a two-and-a-half-year contract for an undisclosed fee.
22 year old Republic of Ireland international winger, Keith Treacy though is also handy with his goal-scoring boots and currently has six goals to his credit in all competitions this season.
Treacy joined Preston from Blackburn Rovers in February 2010 signing a two-and-a-half year contract with an option of a further year.
Burnley Team News:
Burnley ‘s January signings Charlie Austin and Marvin Bartley will both be available for selection after being cup tied for the West Ham FA Cup game on Monday night
Steven Thompson could also still feature despite carrying an infection in his groin which will require surgery in March.
The only two players sidelined with injury continue to be Martin Paterson (recurrent thigh strain) and Chris McCann (recovery from a head operation to remove excess fluid following complaints of repeated migraines). McCann is expected to return to training in the next two weeks but Pato could be out for the rest of the season.
Player to watch: Ross Wallace
The former Preston winger will hopefully be up for this one and it will be interesting to see what sort of reception he gets from the Preston faithful.
Team & Tactics
Note: This Match Preview was written before the West Ham game in the FA Cup on Monday night so we have to assume we have come through that unscathed with no fresh injuries or suspensions to worry about. Any team news post-Monday night will be brought to you below this article.
I think Eddie Howe will be tempted to name a similar team to the selection he had made for recent League games. I fully expect Charlie Austin to return up front which could mean Chris Iwelumo returning to the bench. Ross Wallace too is likely to be preferred ahead of Wade Elliott, especially since the former Preston winger will be up for this one against his former club. So the eighteen I suspect will look something like this:
Grant, Mears, Carlisle, Duff, Fox, Eagles, Cork, Marney, Wallace, Austin, Rodriguez
Subs: Jensen, Bikey, Alexander, Elliott, Bartley, Iwelumo, Thompson
Form dictates that the Clarets should have no problem beating lowly Preston but this is a derby and anything can happen. Our luck at Deepdale in recent seasons has deserted us with Preston often scraping a win due to penalties or crass refereeing decisions. Let`s change that. 2-1 Clarets win although it should perhaps be a more emphatic victory based on relative form and confidence.
Our first home match in five games sees the Clarets face Crystal Palace at Turf Moor on Saturday 5th March (Kick-Off 3pm)