Date: 9th July 2011 at 9:32am
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The Clarets play their first pre-season friendly today away to non-league Altrincham amidst some controversy. The club have still not managed to sign any new players this summer much to the concern of a number of Clarets fans and have also failed to snap-up Jack Cork with the England Under 21 international having signed for Southampton in midweek.

The Pre-amble

It only seems like a minute ago that we were bringing 2010-11 to a close in our final game of the season at home to Cardiff City and now already pre-season is in full swing with our first friendly about to be played today involving a trip to Greater Manchester to play Altrincham

So then Altrincham! What do we know about them? Well Alty (as they are fondly known) were founded in 1891 when they were known as Broadheath F.C. They changed to their present name in 1903. They currently play in the Conference North (Blue Square Bet North), having been relegated from the Conference National (Blue Square Bet Premier League) at the end of the 2010-11 season. Lee Sinnott is their manager and they play their home games at Moss Lane, a ground that has a capacity of 6.085. Also nicknamed ‘The Robins’, they play in red & white stripes with black shorts.

They have been busy in the close season trying to build up their squad with four new signings and three new trialists likely to feature in the friendly against the Clarets. At the moment though they still only have 13 registered players.

The Clarets of course are now stepping up their pre-season training and will be hoping to ditch a few cobwebs in their first competitive game of the summer. Eddie Howe has virtually a full squad to choose from and we can expect to see a large number of them at some point during the game. It is likely Howe will experiment with team selection, formation and tactics throughout the match as he starts to work out in our pre-season friendlies a starting eleven for our opening game of the new season at home to Watford on Saturday 6th August. One player though who will definitely not feature against Altrincham will be Charlie Austin. He has more or less fully recovered from his dislocated shoulder but Eddie Howe has stated that he just wants to give the former Swindon striker a little more time and that there is nothing for fans to worry about (We will of course!! )

Clarets fans expecting to see some new signings on show look likely to be disappointed with no new players having yet arrived at the club during the summer. This is certainly causing concern amongst fans and usually by now during the summer, we have had some new signings with those players getting used to their team mates during the pre-season warm up games. Howe though seems somewhat blasé about the situation:

“Other clubs are beginning to move and hopefully we will have news in the coming days or weeks,’ Howe told the club’s official website.

‘I think we need to add some players to the squad.

‘We are happy with the squad as it is, but we want to improve it and I think we need to.’

It is possible though we still might see a new face or two at Moss Lane today since it would appear we have a couple of trialists at the club

Altrincham Team News:

Alty will have lots of new faces on show especially in defence. There have been three new signings to add to the back four. Adam Flynn has been signed from Southport as well as Hyde pairing Chris Lynch and Mark Lees. This is not the same Lynch that was released by Burnley at the end of last season; this one plies his trade at right back. 19-year-old midfielder Brian Summerskill completes the summer signings to date having arrived from Northwich Victoria.

With currently only 13 registered players and three trialists to choose from, Altrincham could soon tire against a rampant Clarets team but it will be a good test for Burnley in their first pre-season friendly.

Player to watch: Michael Twiss

The 33 year old Salford-born midfielder got his footballing career off to an illustrious start after catching the eye of Manchester United and being on the club`s books for three years between 1997 and 2000. Twiss though never made his first-team debut for the Red Devils and during his time at Old Trafford was also sent out on loan to Sheffield United making 12 appearances from the Blades and scoring one goal during the 1998-99 season. His career after that went somewhat downhill! Spells at Port Vale, Leigh RMI, Chester City, Morecambe and Stalybridge Celtic followed before he signed for Altrincham in June 2010 penning a two year deal. In the summer he signed a new contract having made 32 appearances for the club (16 starts) the previous season.

Burnley Team News:

Charlie Austin appears to be the only squad player who will definitely not feature today. Howe is giving him more time to fully recover from his dislocated shoulder. Two new trialists could also be on show but whether we find out who they are remains to be seen.

Player to watch: Martin Paterson

With no new signings likely to be on show, Clarets fans will have to be content with the next best thing. Striker, Martin Paterson missed most of last season with a persistent thigh injury. It would be good to see him tear the Alty defence apart and bag a goal or two. A good pre-season performance or two will hopefully ensure he remains at Turf Moor following gossip that one or two Championship clubs, including Pompey and Reading are showing interest in the former Scunthorpe striker and may already have made bids.

Last Time We Met

The Clarets last played Alty in the third round of the FA Cup back in the 1981-82 season. The match was played at Turf Moor on the 18th January 1982 and we stuffed them 6-1! There was a hat-trick from Northern Ireland international, Billy Hamilton and a brace for Steve Taylor. Trevor Steven completed the rout. Surprisingly we were only 1-0 up at half-time with a total of six goals coming in the second half. The Burnley team that day contained a certain, Brian Laws and other household names and legends including Alan Stevenson, Martin Dobson, Vince Overson and Tommy Cassidy.

10,174 fans watched the game and saw the Clarets progress to the 4th round in convincing style. Sadly though, we would be knocked out by Shrewsbury in the next round after losing 1-0 away.

It would be a good season in the end for the Clarets though since we would finish Champions of the Third Division despite a dreadful start that saw the Clarets languishing in the relegation zone for most of 1981.

Match Prediction:

3-0 Clarets sounds about right!

Next Pre-season Friendly

It`s another short trip, this time to Gigg Lane to play Bury on the night of Tuesday 12th July (Kick-Off 7:45pm)