The Clarets will be hoping to complete the double over their local rivals, Bolton Wanderers in the Reebok this Saturday. A win would keep their play-offs dreams very much alive.
Burnley take on Bolton at the Reebok this Saturday. The derby game might now have lost some of its appeal with Owen Coyle long since departed but three points are still vital is we wish to keep in contention for a play-offs spot come the end of the season. The Clarets currently in 7th spot are still four points behind sixth-placed club, Middlesbrough and they have played a game more. Points are crucial at this stage and we can`t afford too much slippage over the next few games if we wish to maintain the momentum and keep up the challenge. This in theory is just the sort of game we need to win, but derby games are never easy to predict despite Bolton struggling at the wrong end of the table and looking over their shoulder at the dropzone. The Clarets of course started off the Championship season in style, beating Bolton 2-0 in the league opener at Turf Moor back in August it was a superb performance against last season`s demoted Premier League side and of course it was even sweeter getting one over on Owen Coyle the then Bolton gaffer! A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then though with both clubs having undergone changes in manager. Sean Dyche of course has replaced Eddie Howe for the Clarets and following Coyle`s sacking last October the new gaffer at Bolton is Dougie Freedman. Freedman though has not exactly set the world alight at the Reebok and Bolton are currently in 20th spot on 34 points ; that`s only three points more than the third from bottom club, Barnsley. The former Crystal Palace boss has only managed to engineer five wins from 21 games in charge and that also includes a FA Cup win. Bolton have yet to win a Championship game this year which all sounds a bit ominous for the Clarets! Burnley though have generally been playing well and with a bit more luck and better refereeing decisions they could easily have been in the top six by now. The Clarets have now played four games on the road without defeat but have only managed to pick up one point from their last two matches. A win at the Reebok on Saturday would just come at the right time and keep Burnley strongly in contention for a top six finish. Come on you Clarets!
Bolton Wanderers Team News:
Keith Andrews (thigh) and Joe Riley (broken foot) are both out of contention and Matt Mills looks set to remain sidelined. Long-term injury victims Stuart Holden and David Wheater are back in training but are some way from making a first team comeback although both could feature in feature in next Monday`s Under-21 game against Chelsea. New African midfielder, Medo Kamara, could make his first appearance since signing from Partizan Belgrade in January. Two other new signings in January, Craig Dawson, and Steve De Ridder could also be involved. Mark Davies who has been out with a shoulder injury for two months though could figure. Clarets fans hoping to get a glimpse of former right back, Tyrone Mears though could be disappointed. He clearly now seems to be out of favour at the Reebok.
Player to watch: Chris Eagles
Our former winger is quite clearly the danger man. In the opening game of the season at Turf Moor, Eagles came on from the bench but since that time the 27 year old has started every Championship game and is currently Bolton`s leading goal scorer with seven goals to his name. Not only that though, he has also had more shots be they on or off target and more assists than any other Championship player.
Burnley Team News:
Michael Duff looks unlikely to face Bolton on Saturday. Duff seems to be suffering from a spate of injuries of late. He had been sidelined for two weeks with a hamstring injury but made a return to the starting eleven against Peterborough at London Rd last Saturday. The unfortunate central defender though picked up yet another injury in that game limping off with a calf strain. David Edgar looks set to replace him. Defender, Ben Mee who has been out of the side since early December has also suffered a slight setback. His return has been put on ice following a minor hitch in his comeback from a medial knee ligament injury.
“Ben Mee is still a little behind because he had a setback last week. He is settling down again,” said Dyche.
“He may get back into training next week if he has a good few days.
“But then because of his time out he will need training and a reserve game so he will still be another few weeks I think”
Kevin Long and Ross Wallace have also picked up minor knocks but both look set to be available for the Bolton clash. Winger Dane Richards may also still be suffering from jet leg after his mid-week trip to Mexico for a World Cup qualifier with Jamaica.
Player to watch: Junior Stanislas
The winger still seems to blow hot and cold performance wise and you are never quite sure what you are going to get! Sometimes he looks sharp and lethal yet at other times lethargic and uninterested. He seems reluctant to go into the challenge sometimes and gives up too easily on 50:50 balls. He can though be an exciting player to watch when charging forward and crossing the ball over from the flanks. He could be key to our chances of victory this Saturday.
Team & Tactics:
The only likely change from the Posh game could be in the back four with David Edgar taking over from the injured Duff in the centre of defence. Brian Stock seems out of favour at the moment and with it the 4-1-4-1 type formation involving a holding midfield role. A 4-4-2 formation looks to be on the cards again this Saturday so I will plump for the following eighteen:
Grant, Trippier, Edgar, Shackell, Lafferty, Wallace, Marney, McCann, Stanislas, Ings, Austin
Subs: Jensen, O`Neill, Long, Stock, Treacy, Paterson, Vokes
Top flight Select Group referee, Chris Foy gets this derby clash. The Merseyside referee was last in charge of a Burnley game during our Premier League season. In fact, he was the man in the middle for five of our games that season, his last being our clash against Arsenal at the Emirates. So far this season, he has only sent one player off the pitch in 24 games with another 44 picking up yellows.
Bolton might be struggling trying to avoid the dropzone, but this is a derby and anything could happen. The game may not have the intensity as it might have had with Owen Coyle still at the helm but three points are vital for both clubs and this could be a needle match with so much at stake. Bolton have just one win from their last seven League games but I still have a feeling this won`t be an easy game for the Clarets. I think it could be a draw and I will plump for 1-1 although I hope of course we can shade this one!
Well in theory, our next match could be against Huddersfield at Turf Moor on Saturday 16th February (Kick-Off 3pm). I say ‘could` because if somehow the Terriers manage to beat Leicester in the FA Cup 4th round replay in the King Power Stadium on Tuesday 12th February, our game will not go ahead since it will also be FA Cup 5th Round weekend so Huddersfield will be looking to beat Wigan at home on the Sunday instead.
If Huddersfield are still in the FA Cup, our next game will be at home to! Middlesbrough on the night of Tuesday 19th February (Kick-Off 7:45pm)
Remarkably if the Saturday game does not go ahead and bearing in mind Sky Sports are now covering the Hull home game live on Monday 11th March, we will not have a Saturday home game until we play Bristol City on Saturday 6th April! Shocking!!