Stoke the Fire,Clarets!-by TMP
The club and fans have been heartened this week by the news that our manager has signed a new 4.5 year contract and that we have strengthened the squad with new loanees Phil Bardsley and Andy Gray.
Now we take on Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium and need to end the week in style!
We have in the recent past got good results against Stoke both home and away. This match is also a crunch game with the Clarets desperately needing three points to restore confidence to the team, halt the slide from 5th before Christmas to 17th and move the club nearer to that safety margin of 50 points!
The reception of our manager by the Stoke fans is likely to be as hostile as usual and some of the venom we seem to attract from Stokies may well bubble over against former Stoke players, Wayne Thomas, James O'Connor and Gifton Noel-Williams. Oh well, they cant have a go against Ade this time!
Burnley it would appear will definitely have one new face in the squad for the game, with defender Phil Bardsley joining on loan from Manchester United and he could make his debut in this game.
Our main problem at the moment though is scoring goals and it will be interesting to see if new signing Andy Gray gets a chance to start or play in this match. Andy of course will become a permanent Claret in the Summer when his current loan spell is over but at least now Clarets fans have something to look forward to for the rest of this season and lets hope the recent lack of goals will now quickly be reversed.
As all the strikers would appear fit, we will be able to choose I hope a 4-4-2 formation from Ricketts,Gray, Lafferty, Noel-Williams and maybe even Branch! My choice would be Ricketts/Gray or Ricketts/Lafferty if Gray not available although the Official Burnley site are now saying Gray will be available for the Stoke match.
Midfield man Micah Hyde was substituted in last week's game at Derby County after tweaking his knee and there is still some doubt he will be available. A late fitness check by the Club is likely to be in order.
The only long term absentee remains goalkeeper Danny Coyne.
If he is fit we may see former Burnley loanee Luke Chadwick play against the Clarets after missing the last game with a hamstring problem and general fatigue.
Stoke City also have injury doubts over midfielders Dave Brammer (tendonitis) and Darel Russell (virus) whilst defender Carl Hoefkens is struggling with a thigh injury.
So far, this week has been a very good one for the Clarets with the recent announcements.I would hope all this good news might instill some confidence in the team and that the lads will come out fighting with fire and passion! Rather interestingly,Stoke and Burnley have both won just once in their last 13 games.We therefore have a good chance and need some points badly so come on and stoke the fire and singe the Stokies hearts!