Just three games of the season remaining now starting with a trip to Leicester this Tuesday night. The Foxes will no doubt think they still have an outside chance of reaching the play-offs so it won`t be easy for the Clarets
The end of the season is fast approaching and for the Clarets we are just basically going through the motions and trying to finish as high as possible in the table. Our hopes of even a top ten finish were dashed on Saturday following a dismal, disappointing draw at home to struggling Coventry City and now we travel to the King Power Stadium to play Leicester City who will still have hopes of reaching the play-offs.
Leicester`s season has not turned out to be as good as many were expecting following investment in so many new players at the start of 2011-12. Perhaps the problem for Leicester was the fact there were too many new players brought in, with no time to gel and too many options to consider.
Optimism was no doubt high before the season kicked-off but that soon turned to disappointment leading to the sacking of yet another Leicester manager. Leicester were favourites for promotion but in October 2011 following an inconsistent start with the Foxes winning just 5 out of the first 13 games, Sven-Göran Eriksson left the club by mutual consent to be replaced by Nigel Pearson just three weeks later.
Although the Foxes recent form has generally been average with 3 wins, two draws and one defeat in the last six games their form at home has been more impressive. You have to go back to January for the last time a team beat Leicester on their home soil and that was Barnsley who beat the Foxes 2-1. Since that defeat t Leicester have won five and drawn two games in the Championship as well as beating Swindon in the FA Cup.
They are currently in 9th spot with 62 points just two points ahead of the Clarets in 11th. Crucially though they are still only six points adrift of a play-offs spot with Blackpool in 5th and Cardiff in 6th both on 68 points. It will still be a tall order for them to reach the play-offs with just three games remaining but their odds are certainly more favourable than the Clarets who still have a very remote mathematical chance.
Leicester City Team News:
There is no news of any further injuries following Leicester`s 2-1 defeat at Millwall on Saturday. Neil Danns though missed that game after undergoing surgery the day before to fix a recently picked up groin injury. The 29 year old midfielder remains a doubt for Tuesday night and indeed the rest of the season. He has not featured actually in the Foxes last five games having also picked up a four-match suspension.
Player to watch: David Nugent
How many Clarets fans still rue the fact we could never find a way of signing David Nugent on a permanent deal when we had the chance? Our former loan striker has certainly done the business for Leicester City this season scoring 16 goals in all competitions to become the Foxes current leading goal-scorer. He is bound to score against the Clarets isn`t he?
Burnley Team News:
Jay Rodriguez (groin/hip), Paterson (hamstring) and Ben Mee (small back fracture) remain our only injuries unless there were some knocks picked up in the Coventry game that have yet to be announced.
Player to watch: Michael Duff
Duff of course recently signed a one-year new deal which pleased most if not all Clarets fans. Our defence has significantly been bolstered by his presence in the team this season and we have tended to struggle when he has been absent. He could be the key to keeping out the Foxes strike force on Tuesday night. Duff`s influence on the rest of his back four team mates has not gone unnoticed with many thinking he should be our captain next season.
Team & Tactics:
With no news of any further injury concerns for Eddie Howe we can probably expect a similar sixteen to the one that struggled against Coventry City at home last Saturday. Howe will no doubt also sprinkle the bench with a few young guns again, not that he has any choice with our current injuries to Mee, Pato and Jay Rod plus those out on loan limiting his options. You can probably perm two or three from the following young guns for the bench-Howieson, Hewitt, McCartan, Fletcher and the most recent addition Joe Jackson.
I just wonder if Howe may decide to play Lafferty at left back. It is not clear if he is still not being risked due to his hamstring problem although he has been on the bench for the last two matches suggesting at least he could be brought on if desperately needed. Ross Wallace has continued to play out-of-position at left back but I guess with nothing to play for he may as well continue in the back four.
Oh well no doubt the sixteen will look something like this unless he decides to experiment with new ideas and tactics for consideration next season.
Grant, Trippier, Duff, Edgar, Wallace, Stanislas, McCann, Marney, McQuoid, Ings, Austin
Subs: Jensen, Bartley plus three young guns from Hewitt, Howieson, McCartan, Fletcher and Jackson.
Premier League referee Michael Jones gets this clash! Jones last game in charge of a match involving the Clarets was our 4-1 FA Cup defeat away to Norwich back in January this year. The Chester referee showed just two yellow cards in that game but this season is tally so far is 9 reds and 106 yellows from just 28 games. 1 player sent off every three games? Guess what he last showed a red three games ago!
Leicester City have more to play for than Burnley in this clash and they will still believe they have an outside chance of reaching the play-offs. With Eddie Howe already admitting defeat now, our play-offs hopes have well and truly evaporated.
Can we still play for pride, try and secure our eleventh away win of the season and aim to finish in the top ten? Until that debacle against Coventry City at home on Saturday, I would have answered ‘yes` to those questions but now I think the season will simply fizzle out into mid-table mediocrity. 2-1 to Leicester City!
Our last away game of the season with just one remaining home game after that (Bristol City) will be against Blackpool at Bloomfield Road on Saturday 21st April (kick-off 3pm)