Date: 25th July 2011 at 9:39am
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The Clarets are back home after their mini-tour of the South West of England and now travel just down the road to Oldham on Tuesday night for their fifth and penultimate pre-season friendly.

The Pre-amble

Burnley have had a reasonable pre-season to date with three wins out of four in the pre-season friendly clashes so far. Only the lacklustre performance and 2-0 defeat to Bristol Rovers at ‘The Mem` has blotted their copybook. Clarets fans though were rocked just before the last friendly against Torquay with news that the club had accepted a £3 million offer from Bolton for Chris Eagles and Tyrone Mears so things at the moment are looking bleak with Eddie Howe now having just two weeks before the season kicks off to find suitable replacements and indeed also bring in the 2-3 players he has indicated he needs to add depth in quality to the squad. We could have a new signing on show at Boundary Park on Tuesday night when we line up against Oldham in the fifth pre-season friendly of the summer with strong hints that Burnley are close to making a deal and could sign someone as early as Monday. It is early Monday morning at the time of writing this article so we shall have to wait and see what happens during the day.

Oldham did not exactly take League 1 by storm last season and they finished a disappointing 17th. Their manager is Paul Dickov, the former Arsenal, Manchester City, Blackburn Rovers, Leicester City and Leeds United striker and wingman. He signed a one-year rolling contract with Oldham in June 2010 initially as player-manager before hanging up his boots at the end of last season to concentrate on management at Boundary Park. The Latics have had a good pre-season so far following the disappointment of losing their first friendly 2-0 away to Blue Square Premier side, Barrow. They got back to winning ways with a 1-0 victory over non-league Mossley before taking on Blackburn Rovers at their Brockhall Training Complex when two games were played simultaneously! They won one match 1-0 but lost the other 5-0!! However against Premier League opposition again they went to Wigan and beat them 1-0 before also beating newly relegated Blackpool 2-1 at Boundary Park in their last game. They seem to have their tails up and we could face a strong challenge on Tuesday night.

Oldham Athletic Team News:

The Latics have certainly been active in the summer transfer window trying in particular to tighten up their defence. They have brought in keeper, Alex Cisak from Accrington Stanley, centre back Jean Yves Mvoto from Sunderland and defender, Zander Diamond from Aberdeen although they have also seen a few departures including their former captain, Ruben Hazell.

In terms of injury concerns, they have lost their unfortunate 19 year old winger, Philip McGrath for a season after he picked up his second cruciate ligament injury in 12 months. New keeper, Alex Cisak also missed Oldham`s last friendly against Blackpool with a bruised finger could be fit to play on Tuesday night. Their first choice keeper, Paul Gerrard who is also their goalkeeping coach is also recovering from surgery he had during the summer.

Player to watch: Chris Taylor

Taylor was Oldham`s leading goal scorer last season with 11 goals to his name. There have been reports that Burnley are interested in bringing the 24 year old to Turf Moor. He is quite a versatile player and actually he primarily plays in midfield although obviously he can also play up front.

He is a local lad born in Oldham and has played for no other club joining the team he supported as a lad in August 2005. He signed a contract extension in March 2009, one that would keep him at the club until 2012. In the last year of his contract then, Oldham may feel it is time to cash in on the player and it would be a bizarre twist of fate if it was Taylor lining up for the Clarets against his former club on Tuesday night.

Burnley Team News:

A 23 man squad was chosen for the South West Tour but we know that is now reduced by 2 following the likely departure of Eagles and Mears to Bolton. Martin Paterson was rested for our last game against Torquay. He was not injured as some reports suggested but apparently missed out because Howe wanted to look in more detail at a Jay Rod/Austin combination. Lee Grant had also picked up a slight knock allowing Jon Stewart to feature off the bench in the second half.

It is not sure if Howe will add to his 21 man squad for the local clash against Oldham but if not the names he will have available for selection are as follows:

Brian Jensen, Lee Grant, Jon Stewart, Michael Duff, Brian Easton, Andre Bikey, Danny Fox, David Edgar, Ben Mee, Kevin Long, Wade Elliott, Chris McCann, Dean Marney, Ross Wallace, Marvin Bartley, Steven Hewitt, Martin Paterson, Jay Rodriguez, Charlie Austin, Wes Fletcher, Alex MacDonald.

It seems unlikely he will add Leon Cort to the list. He seems totally out of favour being the only first-team professional not having been named for the South West Tour. His days at Turf Moor must surely be numbered. Some of the development squad who missed out on the tour must also be wondering if they will get another chance to impress before the season kicks off. Alex-Ray Harvey, Dominic Knowles, Medhi Lazaar and Joe McKee were all involved in the friendlies before the tour although McKee was the only one not to play having been named on the bench for the Altrincham game. Young Steven Hewitt appeared to leapfrog them all after being selected for the tour, so it will interesting to see if he is given another chance against Oldham.

There is to date no news of any injury concerns so we can assume Howe will select a starting eleven probably from the squad of 21 above and have the rest available on the bench. His starting eleven will be anybody`s guess but he is now honing down and beginning to develop his thoughts for the start of the new season and his likely starting eleven. We could get a massive clue to his thinking when we see the starting eleven for the Oldham clash and the substitutions he makes.

Player to watch: Alex MacDonald

The striker seems to be making a name for himself in the pre-season friendlies with three goals so far from the four games. The 21 year old Scottish international had become the almost forgotten man at Turf Moor despite making his first team debut a few seasons back. Since that time though, he has spent most of it away on loan. Could this be Alex`s season? Well yes, based on his performance in the summer so far this could well be the season he makes the breakthrough into the first team.

Last Time We Met

Clarets fans will recall we played Oldham at Boundary Park in a pre-season friendly last summer.

Burnley defeated Oldham Athletic 2-1 that night despite going a goal behind with just five minutes played. The Clarets left it late too scoring two goals in the last ten minutes of the match.

A through ball by Fox on 82 minutes found Thompson who chipped home from 12 yards to score.

Three minutes later and Paul Dichov’s men were stunned by another Burnley goal. A free kick taken by Alexander found Cort at the far post who rose the highest to head home across the keeper.

It might have been even better news for the Clarets had Iwelumo not fluffed a penalty after 15 minutes. His left footed low shot was saved by the keeper after Rod McDonald had brought down Eckersley in the box.

Brian Laws gave most of his squad a chance to play with only Martin Paterson (Achilles tendon) and Tyrone Mears still suffering from a slight hamstring injury missing out.

The starting line-up was as follows:

Jensen; Eckersley, Duff, Carlisle, Easton, Rodriguez, McCann, Elliott, Eagles, Iwleumo

For the second half things were changed around as expected and we lined up as follows:

Jensen, Fox, Cort, Bikey, Edgar, Alexander, McDonald, Elliott, Wallace, Rodriguez, Thompson.

After 75 minutes Alex-Ray Harvey also came on to replace Elliott together with Wes Fletcher who replaced Rodriguez.

Match Prediction:

This could be the toughest game so far for the Clarets against their League 1 opponents and a draw could be on the table. I will go for 2-2.

Next Pre-Season Friendly

The Clarets next pre-season friendly will be their first and only one at Turf Moor and their last one before the new season kicks off on Saturday 6th August. They face Premier League side, Sunderland on Saturday 30th July (Kick-Off 3pm)