Date:Friday March 31 2006
Lets hope the Clarets can continue their recent improvement and get more points in the bag from this match on Saturday.
It seems there is mainly apathy amongst Clarets fans at the moment, with most sensing that we are safe and just playing out the last six matches of this season. As our manager has stated, we just need to plough on for the rest of the season and finish as high as we can.In effect though there is not much to play for and most fans have one eye on the close season with hopes that the widely spreading rumours that the Club will provide quite a bit of money for squad building come true!
I would be happy this season if we finished somewhere between 10 and 13th place. At least then we can say we have consolidated over last season.
However, lets get back to the game in hand
In the Owls team, Jon-Paul McGovern remains a doubt and will require a late fitness test
Sheffield Wednesday could have Steve Adams back in their squad after recovering from an Achilles problem.Peter Gilbert has already been ruled out for the rest of the season. He aggravated a cartilage problem in their recent match with Wolves. He is likely to be replaced by John Hills for the rest of the season.
French Guinean striker,Jean-Avril De Fou,the Owls top scorer with 3 goals is likely to play in this match after returning from suspension. The player has had a number of bookings this season and was most famously booked for calling Blade's manager Neil 'Colin' Warnock 'Vous etre un torser' in their recent derby match with Sheffield United. This remark was sadly heard by a fluent French speaking linesman who reported it to the referee.
The Clarets for a change seem to have a number of options for this match although both Hyde and McGreal remain doubtful with injuries. Hyde managed to play for a couple of minutes or so against Saints last Tuesday after replacing James O'Connor in the 90th minute. The manager however is not totally convinced of Hyde's fitness and suggested the player himself was doubtful this week. I suspect he will be on the bench if he is selected at all
I would think we will start with a similar team to the starting line-up against Saints in the now familiar 4-4-2 formation with Ricketts and Gray up front with Kyle Lafferty waiting in the wings to replace Ricketts again! I would rather we started with Gray and Lafferty I still maintain we should be giving the young gun more experience in these last few matches where we have nothing to play for only pride. I would prefer therefore to see Kyle start with Andy.
The injury to McGreal will probably lead to Duff retaining his preferred central defender role and he seems to be almost making that role his own in the last few matches. The partnership between James O'Connor and the young, Chris McCann is also developing well in midfield and I expect this could well be the powerhouse along with Alan Mahon that will lead to our goals on Saturday.
Phil Bardsley will hopefully be as solid as ever in defence despite having the misfortune to put through his own net after 30 secs in the Saints match. He recovered well from that especially in the second half.
The only one concern I have is the referee. This will be the infamous Graham Laws, a man that has caused numerous problems for the fans in past Clarets matches with very dubious decisions on a number of occasions
Another slight concern would be the recent good form of the Owls, and the fact they have more to gain from winning this match being closer to the bottom three.
Hillsborough over the years has been a happy hunting ground and we do need to avenge our recent defeat by the Owls at the Turf over Christmas when we lost 1-2 continuing a bad run of matches both home and away that saw us drop down the table from 7th, that day to the current 17th.
I am unable to attend this match so will be listening to Phil Bird. In fact I have just realised that the last match I went to Hillsborough was in 1974 for the FA Cup Semi Final against Newcastle. That was a miserable, awful day as we were completely outplayed by the Toons and saw our Wembley dreams slip away.
I think we can win this match on Saturday though providing we are up for it and havent decided the season is over and we are safe!
Lets woo them into a false sense of security and come away with three points!
Date:Friday March 31 2006
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