Date: 26th August 2011 at 5:46pm
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Burnley who have yet to win a league game this season have a tough game on Saturday and travel to Pride Park to play an in-form Derby County side. The Rams have managed maximum points so far in the Championship from their opening four games.

The Pre-amble

The Clarets are struggling to kick-start their season so far and after three games have yet to win their first match in the League. They sit ominously fourth from bottom in 21st spot just ahead of Watford on goal difference having played one game less. Just two home draws are all we have to show so far this season for all the effort. Worryingly for Eddie Howe, they have also yet to keep a clean sheet and have been terribly leaky in defence, by far our greatest weakness at the moment. Even in the two Carling Cup victories at home to lowly League 2 sides, Burton and Barnet, we managed to concede five goals in total so somehow we have to tighten up in the back-four or we are likely to be pulverised by high-flying Derby. You could make up some excuses I suppose considering we have virtually a new back four following the departures of Mears to Bolton, Fox to Southampton and of course Clarke Carlisle on loan to Preston. Trippier and Mee have steadied the ship to some extent and Brian Easton has been given his chance at left-back, but it is imperative they quickly bed in and develop an understanding before the results become way too embarrassing! They will certainly get a test on Saturday against the Rams!!

Derby are currently in second spot with a maximum 12 points from four games. They are just behind Southampton on goal difference by one goal. They have scored 7 goals in those 4 Championship games and conceded one so Burnley will have to find that bit of magic from somewhere to keep them at bay. Oh well at least they lost 3-2 at home to League 2, Shrewsbury in the Carling Cup first round so there is some hope!!

Derby County Team News:

Derby manager, Nigel Clough will be hoping Jason Shackell will be fit enough to line up in central defence on Saturday. Shackell you will remember was one of our defensive targets this summer but in the end chose the Rams. Shackell battled through the final 15 minutes of the Rams victory over Doncaster last weekend despite his back stiffening up and causing him discomfort in a hamstring. He also missed training in midweek so remains a doubt.

Teenager Mark O’Brien is the only other fit recognised centre back so the Clarets will be hoping to exploit this weakness on Saturday.

Rams forward Jamie Ward is also a doubt. He limped off during game against Doncaster after just 25 minutes with a hamstring problem

Player to watch: Craig Bryson

Bryson was the ‘Player to Watch` recommendation on the Vital Rams site. One of their Site Journalist`s Rob B commented:

“Scottish midfielder Bryson has been in great form since signing from Kilmarnock in the summer.

He runs endlessly, has scored a goal, and is playing in a slightly unfamiliar advanced role but has settled in straight away which is very impressive. ”

Burnley Team News:

Midfielder, Marvin Bartley completes the third of his automatic three match suspension on Saturday following his straight red card away to Palace.

Michael Duff becomes the latest injury concern for the Clarets. He was named captain for the Carling Cup clash against Barnet in midweek but hobbled off just before half-time to be replaced by David Edgar. The results of a scan later in the week revealed medial ligament damage, which could take between four to six weeks to heal.

Duff now joins the growing injury list with both Martin Paterson (recovering from a troublesome thigh injury) and Danny Ings (cartilage injury requiring surgery) both under treatment and facing a long lay-off.

Player to watch: David Edgar

If Edgar gets to play in place of the injured Duff, this could be make or break time for the Canadian international. Always on the periphery of the first team, Edgar needs to string together a few good games and make an impression if he is to ever make that central back position his own. His task will be even greater if the Clarets are successful in bringing in Stoke`s Ryan Shotton or someone like West Brom defender Craig Dawson.

Team & Tactics

I would think and hope we play the more aggressive 4-4-2 unlike our last outing against Palace when we tried all sorts of formations mainly involving one up front until it was too late and we found ourselves 2-0 down.

With Duff sidelined, unless we can get a new centre back in time, Howe would appear to have two options. Either play Edgar in partnership with Mee or select Amougou instead! Amougou seems out of favour amongst all the rumours also that he could be leaving Turf Moor so I think Edgar could get the nod. Edgar did after all replace the injured Duff just before half-time against Barnet in midweek with Amougou also a possibility remaining firmly on the bench and not getting a look in at all in the Carling Cup tie.

Chris McCann also looks likely return to the starting eleven after the captain was dropped to the bench in midweek for the Carling Cup clash against Barnet.

With no news of any further injury concerns for Howe, I suspect that apart from Duff, we will have a very similar starting eleven although it will be interesting to see if new striker, Zavon Hines gets to make his full debut after two substitute appearances since arriving from West Ham.

I suspect the line-up will look something like this:

Grant. Trippier, Edgar, Mee, Easton, Wallace, McCann, Elliott, Treacy, Austin, Rodriguez

Subs: Jensen, Amougou, Marney, MacDonald, Hines

Ref Watch:

Andy Haines (Sunderland) will take charge of this clash in only his second game featuring the Clarets. His first match in control was our 3-0 home win against Barnsley last October so hopefully that will be some sort of omen! We all like to clutch at straws don`t we? If last season was anything to go by, we could have a referee content to let the action flow without being too whistle-happy. In 92 games in charge during 2010-11, he handed out just 90 yellow cards and 3 red cards.

Match Prediction:

Very, very nervous about this one! The Rams seem in rampant mood whereas we are struggling with a pretty woeful defence at times and have yet to win a game this season.

Realistically, I can see nothing but a comprehensive defeat and I just hope it won`t be worse than 3-0! Of course we can always pray for that ‘against all the odds` Burnley moment! If you believe in omens, then you might be interested to know that the last league game we won on the road was back in April when we beat the Rams 4-2 at Pride Park!

Next Match

We now have an International break but the Clarets will return to action with a home game against Middlesbrough on Saturday 10th September (Kick-Off-3pm)