Burnley take on Barnsley at Turf Moor on Tuesday night with three points a vital requirement if they are to get their promotion challenge back on track.
Burnley have been disappointing of late, especially on home soil. Two home draws against Derby and Peterborough in our last two games at Turf Moor could prove to be vital points dropped when we look at our final league position in May. It is almost like our away form is keeping the team in with a chance of reaching the play-offs but even that suffered a dent on Saturday when we caught Southampton on a good day at St Marys and were comprehensively beaten 2-0 by the Saints. The more disappointing fact though was that we seemed incapable of giving them a game and struggled to make any sort of impression for the whole of the match.
With five points dropped now in our last two games, it is clear we need a confidence-boosting win in our match against Barnsley at Turf Moor on Tuesday night to realistically maintain our hopes of reaching the play-offs. The Clarets are now five points adrift of 5th placed Blackpool and 6th placed Hull, with the Tigers also having a game in hand. It would be a mountain to climb now if we dropped further points, especially at home and even more so with a tricky game coming up away to Reading on Friday night. We have to stay in contention and nothing less than a win will suffice on Tuesday night against a side that is hardly setting the division alight this season despite the odd impressive result.
Keith Hill`s Barnsley are currently in 15th spot, six points behind the Clarets with a game in hand following their postponed home match against Birmingham on Saturday due to a frozen pitch. They have notched up some impressive wins on the road this season including victories against Leicester, Leeds and Reading. They have won three of their last six games away from home but also suffered three defeats so we shall have to hope we get them on a bad night on Tuesday. It would appear similar to Burnley that their home form in particular is letting them down this season with seven defeats so far although of course they did manage to beat the Clarets at Oakwell earlier in the season winning 2-0 back in October. We shall have to make sure they don`t get the double over us and secure the three points we badly need to keep our promotion dreams alive.
Burnley Team News:
Junior Stanislas is still sidelined with a hamstring injury but Martin Paterson is thought to be close to making a return after also picking up a hamstring injury in the game against Middlesbrough last month.
There is an injury concern regarding Marvin Bartley who was struggling with a twisted ankle in the 2-0 defeat against Southampton on Saturday. Bartley had come on for the start of the second half but picked up the injury later on when all our substitutions had already been made. Rather than come off and force Burnley to play with ten men, he soldiered on but he was clearly struggling. Paterson could well replace Bartley on the bench on Tuesday night.
Eddie Howe does not appear to have any other injury concerns and has virtually the whole squad to choose from.
Player to watch: Charlie Austin
Austin is our second highest goal scorer this season so far with 10 goals in all competitions but he badly needs to get back on the score sheet after failing to find the back of the net now in seven matches including six Championship games. A goal or two against Barnsley would really boost his confidence and the team`s so come on Charlie let`s rock and roll!!
Barnsley Team News:
Tykes midfielder and skipper, Jacob Butterfield is out for the rest of the season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligaments at the end of last year. The 21 year old injured his knee in their 4-1 victory over Leeds United at Oakwell on New Year`s Eve following a crunching tackle by Leeds midfielder, Michael Brown.
Midfielder Jim O’Brien (groin) and defender Jay McEveley (thigh) could both be available after recovering from their respective injuries. It had been thought they could have featured in the home game against Birmingham on Saturday before the match was postponed so they will have had additional recovery time.
23 year old left back Scott Golbourne could also make his first start since arriving from Exeter City in the January transfer window.
Player to watch: Craig Davies
At least Burnley fans will not need to worry about leading Barnsley goal scorer, Ricardo Vaz Tê
Vaz Tê was very much the Tykes key striker having notched up 12 goals so far this season in all competitions. However Vaz Tê signed for Championship league leaders, West Ham United on 31 January 2012, for an undisclosed fee on a two-and-a-half year deal.
All eyes will now be on 26 year old striker, Craig Davies, the Tykes second highest goal scorer this season with nine goals so far in all competitions. The Welsh international joined Barnsley from Chesterfield in July 2011 and scores at a rate of about one goal in every two games. We will certainly have to keep one eye on him and probably the other on a familiar face, Andy Gray. The former Clarets striker, now 34 is still also quite capable of finding the back of the net but is not as prolific as he used to be with just seven goals so far this season for the Tykes.
Team & Tactics
Eddie Howe could be tempted to start Josh McQuoid with Keith Treacy returning to the bench. Treacy just could not get in the game at St Marys and it was no surprise when he was substituted by McQuoid for the start of the second-half.
Bartley could also miss out after hobbling on with a twisted ankle in the Saints game and we await news of the injury. Martin Paterson now thought to be fit and raring to go, could be an option to replace him on the bench.
I would surmise that the following sixteen would be close to Eddie Howe`s choice on the night:
Grant, Trippier, Duff, Edgar, Mee, Wallace, Marney, McCann, McQuoid, Rodriguez, Austin.
Subs: Jensen, Easton, Bartley (or Paterson), Treacy, Hines
Our formation tends to be 4-4-1-1 these days with Jay Rodriguez playing off Austin although we do tend to drift in and out and finish up playing a true 4-4-2 in the second-half. Expect more of the same
West Midlands referee, Oliver Langford is in charge of this War of the Roses battle. In his 26 games so far this season he has shown red seven times and also handed out 74 yellow cards. His last game involving the Clarets was just over a year ago when he was in charge of another War of the Roses clash. This time though the White Rose won with Burnley going down 1-0 to Doncaster Rovers at the Keepmoat. The card count though was pretty modest with only two yellows being shown.
We simply have to win this one. Our home form has not been too good of late and we have only managed to pick up two draws in our last two games at Turf Moor. Folk could point to the weather being a telling factor in both these games with blustery winds affecting the Derby game and then the freezing cold, snow and blizzards doing their best to spoil the match against Peterborough. The short answer though is that both teams were affected to the same extent in each match so only picking up a point each time was certainly disappointing to say the least.
Burnley have dropped five points in their last two games following the Posh draw at home and the defeat at St Marys last Saturday. It is vital we beat the Tykes on Tuesday night to restore confidence and keep our hopes of reaching the play offs alive.
The Barnsley players will be well rested going into this clash with their home game against Birmingham having been postponed on Saturday due to a frozen pitch but their form otherwise can best be described as indifferent.
We simply have to focus on this game and take no prisoners. A convincing home win would be a real tonic but anything less could see the Clarets six to eight points off the pace with our play-offs hopes ever dwindling. Come on you Clarets…3-1!!!
The Clarets face another tough game away this Friday night when they travel to the Madejski Stadium to play currently 7th placed Reading. This match was rearranged from the Saturday to accommodate Sky Sports who now wish to cover the game live. The match kicks off at 8pm.