Burnley play sixth-placed Middlesbrough at Turf Moor on Tuesday night in a vital play-offs six pointer.
The Clarets have gone off the boil recently finding points hard to come by. They have lost two of their last three games after going down 2-1 at home to Birmingham and then away by the same score to local rivals, Bolton. In the other they have only managed to pick up one point against lowly Peterborough at London Road. The lack of points has seen the Clarets drop to 10th spot now seven points adrift of the club they face next; Middlesbrough on Tuesday night at Turf Moor. Boro are currently occupying the last play-offs spot in sixth place and have now played an extra game compared to the Clarets. With such a wide gap though already opening up, Burnley vitally need to win this six pointer and close the gap to four points. Tony Mowbray`s men have struggled in recent games to impress despite their lofty position. They have only managed to win one game in the Championship so far this year after beating Leeds 1-0 at home earlier this month. With no draws either, they have lost an amazing six games and been leaking goals like the clappers. In the seven league games this season, Boro have conceded 17 goals and scored just six! The Teesside club have lost their last six on the road in all competitions, and are chasing their first points in six league away matches. Their last away win was against struggling Peterborough back in December when they achieved a 3-2 victory. . Burnley really have to punish them at home and ensure their confidence remains shattered.
Burnley Team News:
Michael Duff is still recovering from a calf injury and looks set to miss out again in the centre of defence with David Edgar likely to deputise once more. Ben Mee is also still on the treatment bench recovering from his medial ligament injury. Sam Vokes is also fighting to be fit for the Boro clash after picking up a foot injury last Tuesday night in a behind-closed doors reserve game at Stoke City. He scored twice in that game despite the problem and also came on from the bench for the last eight minutes of the Bolton game at the Reebok last Saturday. He is expected to be available
“It`s just a kick and it`s just soft tissue damage and we are letting that settle down, said Burnley gaffer, Sean Dyche.
“We have got to be careful with him, but he`s winning the battle,”
Player to watch: Charlie Austin
Lost a bit of ground recently thanks mainly to injury and is now second in the Championship goal-scoring table to Glenn Murray at Palace. He is now adrift of Murray by three goals with 21 so far being his tally. Worryingly Rovers striker, Jordan Rhodes now also has 21 goals to his credit so come on Charlie, time for a hat-trick!
Middlesbrough Team News:
Middlesbrough defender Stuart Parnaby will miss the Turf Moor clash after suffering a torn hamstring during their 4-1 defeat at Crystal Palace last Saturday. He now faces a lengthy spell out of action
Defenders Seb Hines (knee) and Jonathan Woodgate (calf) are also doubtful along with striker, Scott McDonald (also calf) McDonald faces a late fitness test while Woodgate and Hines are not expected to travel to Turf Moor. Long-term absentees Julio Arca (toe) and Justin Hoyte (hip) will also remain sidelined.
Player to watch: Andre Bikey
Boro have a number of injury concerns in defence but it would appear that Andre Bikey formerly known as Amougou formerly known as Bikey is not one of them so he looks likely to feature against his former club despite the 4-1 drubbing against Palace last Saturday. Let`s hope he does more of a Reading and gets sent off, than doing his famous somersaults after scoring! Could he be the weakness in defence we all know about and can exploit? Let`s hope someone in the squad has told Dyche all about him and his tendency to have those Bikey moments in defence that might be to our advantage.
Team & Tactics:
Once again it looks like Michael Duff and Ben Mee will be the only players to miss out with injury. Sean Dyche could be tempted to name an unchanged starting eleven despite the defeat at Bolton but no doubt he will tinker with the bench again slightly to give some of his fringe players a chance to feature. Suspect a line-up something like this in a 4-4-2 formation:
Grant, Trippier, Shackell, Edgar, Lafferty, Wallace, McCann, Marney, Stanislas, Ings, Austin
Subs: Jensen, O’Neill, Long, Stock, Treacy, Paterson, Vokes
Cambridgeshire referee, Kevin Wright is in charge of this clash. This will be his second game this season featuring the Clarets. He was the man in the middle in our 1-1 draw at Oakwell in the Championship game last November. In his 11 games so far this season, just two players have been sent off and another, 34 have been shown yellow
So crucial to get three points from this clash and recently Boro have been no great shakes and leaking goals. So then how about 3-1 Clarets!!?
Burnley travel to the seaside to play Brighton on Saturday 23rd February (Kick-Off: 3pm)