At last a Turf Moor Friendly!
The long, hectic pre-season run out comes to an end tomorrow as the Clarets play the final friendly of their nine match schedule.
What a journey it has been too with two games played on the US tour followed by three matches North of the Border in Scotland. A little jaunt down the road to play our traditional game against Accrington Stanley was then followed by a trip out to Ireland to play Glentoran in the special 125th Anniversary game followed by a dart across the Pennines two nights later to play League 2 side, Bradford City
Phew but now at long last, a match at Turf Moor with Scottish Premier League side, Inverness Caledonian Thistle providing the Clarets with their latest challenge.
The lads have purposely been playing all their friendlies away in this pre-season so far to give the pitch renovations at Turf Moor a chance to bed-in.
Now is the chance at long last for Clarets fans to see how well the pitch has bedded in and how well we can play on it!
For many Clarets, including yours truly, this will be the first time we have had chance to see them play live (unless you count the USLLive.com online coverage) and a lot of us will now be eager to see at first hand how well the new players are fitting into the team.
Not only have the Clarets had a hectic tour but the Club has also been hectic on the transfer front with six new signings so far with the possibility of more to come.
One player that nobody has seen play yet for the Clarets is of course, Chris Eagles signed just this week from Manchester United.
It is very probable we will see him make his debut on Saturday but in what position is anybody's guess.
You can probably edge your bets by saying he will play in midfield but then he is an attacking midfielder who can play on either wing or in the centre. The rumour is he prefers a central midfield role so maybe thats what Owen Cole has in mind for our new exciting prospect especially since it would appear all our wingers are currently putting in good performances given the chance.
Elliott of course but also Bes Berisha and most noticeably Steve Jones (in the last two games) have all shown recently what they can do.
Just to complicate things even more, we have another winger in the frame, Latvian Under 21 Internatonal trialist, Aleksandrs Solovjovs. Already a crowd favourite and pleasing on the eye to gaffer,Owen Coyle.
Solovjovs is still at Turf Moor and hasn't as expected gone back to his club, JFK Olimps Riga/ASK in Latvia.
It had been known that Coyle was interested in signing the player after he impressed in the games against Glentoran and Bradford City but it was thought the player would now return whilst they tried to negotiate a deal.
However,Solovjovs has continued to train with the Clarets holding out hope that terms could be agreed with the 20 year old and his current club with the Clarets in the driving seat despite interest from other clubs such as, we understand, Sheffield United amongst others.
We could therefore see the trialist again in a Claret & Blue shirt tomorrow against Inverness CT.
Coyle had this to say about his promising trialist:
'He's trained again today [Thursday] and will train on Friday, and we'll have a look at him from there.
'He's done well in the time we've seen him, and, to be fair, there's probably interest from other sides, I would imagine. But we'll take stock after the next couple of days, Coyle continued
'There would be sums involved, and we have budgets to adhere to, so we will find out what is involved, down to the last penny, if we feel he is the right type of player to take us forward.'
It's all happening down Turf Moor way!
Who else can we expect to feature in the game tomorrow?
It will be interesting to see if Wade Elliott is back in contention after suffering from a niggly leg injury and whether Jay Rodriguez, Chris McCann and Kevin McDonald are now deemed fit enough to be risked after suffering minor knocks and bruises.
Michael Duff although named on the bench against Bradford in the last game is also understood to have a minor injury, so was not risked on Wednesday night.
The strongest team possible at the moment if they are all deemed fit enough to play is probably:
Penny, Duff, Carlisle, Caldwell, Kalvenes, Van der Schaff, Eagles, McDonald, Elliott, Blake, Paterson
Subs: Jensen, Alexander, Gudjonsson, Mahon, Akinbiyi, Mahon, Berisha, Solovjovs
Oh look, I managed to get all six new signings in the starting eleven! Well that's what the majority of Clarets fans would like to see I suspect!!
What about the opposition though? What do we know about Inverness Caledonian Thistle?
Well we will certainly have to wait a long time before they have their 125th Anniversary!
They are the relative new boys, despite riding high in the top flight of Scottish football. They only formed in 1994 and were then known just as Caledonian Thistle F.C.
The club formed following the merger of Caledonian and Inverness Thistle, both members of the Highland Football League, to fill a vacancy in the Scottish Football League.
Inverness District Council in 1996 then got in on the act and asked if the club would amend it's name to Inverness Caledonian Thistle F.C. They must have asked nicely!!
Caley Thistle, as they are affectionately known (as well as Caley Jags and sometimes Highlanders) are based at the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium (Capacity: 7,711) beside the Moray Firth.
Craig Brewster is their current manager, now in his second stint and the side finished in 9th place in the SPL last season.
This match is actually probably the strongest challenge yet for the Clarets, although strangely for the club we haven't this season faced English Premier League opposition in any of our friendlies.
Nevertheless, the hectic schedule has still produced probably our best pre-season form in many a year. Played 8, Won 6, Drawn 1, Lost 1!
The Clarets will be hoping to make that seven wins tomorrow and our sixth win on the trot and this time in front of a home crowd.
That will certainly set us up nicely for a week tomorrow, when the season finally starts with an away visit to Hillsborough to face Sheffield Wednesday. What a prospect that will be with Eagles possibly facing a former club of his (he was with the Owls on loan for a spell) and James O'Connor maybe playing for the Owls against his former club too!
We may though have to be careful we dont start getting too physical, with the fine today by the Football League. The Clarets were fined £10,000, with a further £10,000 suspended, for their poor disciplinary record last season.
The Clarets picked up nine red cards and 84 yellows, the highest in the League last season. With first, Paterson and then Van der Schaaf already being asked by the referee to leave the pitch and be substituted in a a couple of the friendlies so far, hopefully this is not a sign of things to come.
If it is, we can always move to Wales an make sure,like Purse the decisions are always reversed!
Come on you Clarets!!