Date: 8th March 2012 at 10:22am
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Crystal Palace are the visitors to Turf Moor on Saturday and the Clarets will certainly be hoping that a return to form will be in order against the Eagles after three successive defeats.

The Pre-amble:

Recent form and results have virtually scuppered all hope of reaching the play-offs although it is still of course mathematically possible. Burnley did not play in midweek due to the home game against Birmingham being postponed and the results of our rivals during the week leaves the Claret in 13th spot now. Birmingham by coincidence are the club in sixth place at the moment and Burnley are eight points behind them having also played a game more.

Burnley will be hoping for a return to form and now face Crystal Palace at Turf Moor on Saturday. If we still have any dreams left of reaching the play-offs we need to start going on a convincing, consistent run hoping our rivals start to lose points. We certainly can`t afford to lose our fourth game in a row and our second at home! Based on current league position, this could be a very tight game. Palace drew away to struggling Coventry in midweek to go one point and one place above the Clarets and that was their seventh game in a row without defeat. They have a tendency to draw with five of those games finishing all square including tricky matches away to West Ham and Boro although the Clarets went one better against both those clubs winning both on the road.

Burnley Team News:

Clarets fans are waiting with bated breath to find out if Michael Duff will be fit enough to play following the injury he picked up in the last game away to Watford. He came off at the end of the first half.
Junior Stanislas (hamstring) could also be close to a return.

Player to watch: Charlie Austin

He really has looked off the pace and ineffective in recent games. He needs to return to form and start banging them in again!

Crystal Palace Team News:

Palace gaffer, Dougie Freedman does not appear to have any fresh injuries or suspensions to worry about. We will bring you updated team news if anything is announced.

Player to watch: Wilfried Zaha

Zaha has impressed since joining from ASEC Mimosas in 2009. The 19 year old winger is already an England Under 21 international and his catching the eye of Premier League clubs. Bolton have reportedly made a £7 million bid for him. He is currently the joint leading scorer with Ambrose having scored seven goals this season.

Team & Tactics

Everybody is awaiting news on Michael Duff`s injury. Our back four collapsed after he was substituted at half-time against Watford at Vicarage Road last Saturday. If he fails to make the sixteen again we don`t appear to have many options unless Howe is thinking about considering Andre Amougou which looks very unlikely. Another wild card could be Daniel Lafferty, who has yet to make his debut. I suspect if Duff is still out injured we will have the same back four that lined up in the second half against the Hornets namely Trippier, Edgar, Mee, Easton.

If Duff is fit enough to play then our strongest line-up is likely to be once again:

Grant, Trippier, Edgar, Duff, Mee, Wallace, Marney, McCann, McQuoid, Rodriguez, Austin.

Subs: Jensen, Easton, Bartley, Ings, Paterson (or Stanislas if fit)

Ref Watch:

Northampton referee, Dean Whitestone is in charge of this one. In his 28 games so far this season, he has shown red four times and dished out 80 yellows

Match Prediction:

We have to pretend we still have a chance of reaching the play-offs, even though it now looks a hopeless task. It is not impossible and is still mathematically achievable with twelve games of the season remaining and 36 points on offer! We certainly can`t afford to play though like we did in our last home game against Millwall a couple of weeks ago. So what are our chances against Crystal Palace? The sides on paper are evenly matched with Palace just edging ahead of the Clarets by one place and one point following their midweek draw away to struggling Coventry. A draw could be on the cards again but I will stick my neck out and go for a 2-0 win.

Next Match:

The next game is a rare Sunday match with the Clarets playing against the Bluebirds in the Cardiff City Stadium on Sunday 18th March. Kick-off 3pm