A Continuing Burnley Saga of Ins, Outs and Maybes!
There has been more news and gossip this week regarding our players so we provide an update in case you missed it.
Alex-Ray Harvey and Dominic Knowles Sign on the Dotted Line
Burnley striker Alex-Ray Harvey and midfielder Dominic Knowles have signed new 12-month contracts with the club becoming the first of four youngsters offered new deals to sign on the dotted line. Strikers Alex MacDonald and Wes Fletcher are also expected to sign but there has not been any confirmation to date.
Knowles, 19, ended the season on a high by being named among the substitutes for the Clarets' final game against Cardiff City.
Midfielder Harvey has just returned from a loan spell with Blue Square Bet Premier side Fleetwood where he helped them to reach the play-offs this season.
McCann Do or Don`t?
Chris McCann is out of contract in the summer and now appears to be involved in a tug of war for his signature between his current boss, Eddie Howe and former gaffer, Owen Coyle following reports that owd Judas was plotting to bring the midfielder to the Reebok
So are Bolton after him or not and if so will Burnley pull out all the stops to keep the poaching Owen Coyle at bay? The debate continued this week with the local media also in full string.
A number of local reports this week confirmed Coyle was actively looking at signing midfielders to boost his squad ahead of next season but the same reports also suggested McCann was not on his short-list despite his obvious admiration of the player. He is thought to be pursuing Swansea midfielder Darren Pratley, who came off the bench to score for the Swans in their play-off victory over Nottingham Forest on Monday.
The Lancashire Telegraph though reported that Owen Coyle was understood to have made steps to set up a reunion with McCann at the Reebok Stadium this summer and they also state that Bolton look set to be Burnley`s biggest competitors for his signature this summer.
However Burnley look likely to fight their corner hoping that McCann will show some loyalty to the club that have nurtured him since he joined Burnley FC and came through the youth ranks to establish him as a first team regular. The club also stuck with him through thick and thin offering an extension to his contract despite a long absence from injury due to cruciate ligament damage and recovery from corrective surgery. McCann looked certain to extend his contract when he was offered new terms by ex-manager Brian Laws earlier in the season, despite at the time still recovering from injury. Eddie Howe stood by the terms offered following his appointment in January and the contract offer was still on the table when McCann finally made a return to first team football against Derby County in the game at Pride Park only last month. By this time, McCann had played only 100 minutes of senior football in 15 months, following injury in September 2009.
Operational; Director, Brendan Flood certainly seems keen to keep the player and was reported this week to be in discussion with McCann`s representatives in an effort to sort out a deal. This story could run and run but Clarets fans won`t be able to rest easy until McCann finally signs on the dotted line. Some fans are already asking why a deal has not been struck already thus fearing the worst that Coyle could be about to pounce.
Eagles Not Wanting To Take Flight?
Chris Eagles has given out the strongest hint yet that he is happy to stay at Turf Moor despite speculation linking him with a move to a Premier League club.
"Starting off this season was difficult because there was a lot of speculation whether I was leaving or not,' Eagles told the Lancashire Evening Telegraph.
'I missed the first four or five games and I didn't know what was happening. But as soon as I started playing I knew I wanted to stay, which is why I signed the new deal.
'It's a shame we didn't get in the play-offs. Teams like QPR and Norwich, who have gone up this year, you couldn't say they've got more than us.
'But there's always next season and I'm sure the gaffer is going to add to the squad.'
The former Manchester United winger rejected a move to SPL champions Rangers last summer before signing a new two year contract at Turf Moor in August 2010. He was later linked with a move to Everton in the January window. Recent speculation suggested David Moyes could still be interested and Wigan have also been linked with a move for the player in the summer.
Hull after Iwelumo?
Striker Chris Iwelumo could be a summer target for Hull City according to speculation this week. The big Scot has struggled to make an impression for the Clarets this season despite at one point being our leading goal scorer during the first half of the season. Goals though then seemed to dry up with the fans becoming more and more frustrated with his performances.
He was a target in the January window and at one point looked set to join Lancashire rivals, Preston North End before the deal fell through due to financial constraints at Deepdale. Iwelumo is understood to be one of the highest paid players on our books and the club could be tempted by suitable offers. The former Wolves striker at 32 is also no spring chicken and with Eddie Howe stating this week that he wants to develop a squad with a younger average age, Iwelumo could be just the sort of player to be on the move this summer. In addition to Preston it was also rumoured that Barnsley and Derby County were interested in the player in the January window and now it would appear we can add Hull City to the list of potential admirers.
Hull manager Nigel Pearson is seeking a targetman with his team only managing a grand total of 21 goals at the KC Stadium this time round.
Chris Iwelumo finished the season with 11 goals with the majority of those being scored at home in the first half of the season. Nevertheless, Hull could be more impressed with that return compared to some of the other strikers they have been linked including Leicester`s Steve Howard ( 5 goals) and Forest`s Dele Adebola (3 goals). Iwelumo could be the favourite from those three based on goal scoring potential alone although Pearson will be well aware of Howard`s capabilities with the striker having played under him for two years at Leicester City . Howard scored some important goals towards the end of the 2009/10 helping the Foxes reach the play-offs.
Iwelumo was somewhat surprised the club were ready to release him in the January window and one wonders if that affected his confidence knowing he was perhaps unwanted.
At the time Iwelumo said:
"I got a phone call saying a couple of clubs had come in and I thought the door would have been closed on it, but there were talks going on, which I was surprised about.
"But that`s football; you just don`t know what`s round the corner in the game."
He had some luck though when Charlie Austin was injured with a dislocated shoulder; an injury which would keep him out for the rest of the season. Steven Thompson was also suffering from an infected groin that required surgery and a period of recuperation whilst Martin Paterson was also struggling to make a return due to a persistent thigh injury. Iwelumo was therefore almost bound to be in the eighteen even with the arrival of emergency loan striker, Nathan Delfouneso from Aston Villa back in March and indeed the Scotland international made a number of starts during March and April but simply could not hit the back of the net. Iwelumo managed just two goals this year, his last being in the game against Watford at Vicarage Road back in February.
A lot of Clarets fans clearly disappointed with Iwelumo in front of goal would no doubt even call a taxi for him to go to Humberside!
Thommo to become a Saint?
Steven Thompson was one of three players along with Kevin McDonald and Remco van der Schaff to be released by Eddie Howe at the end of the season. All three players were out of contract in the summer.
It has widely been reported that Thompson would be returning to Scotland to play in the SPL next season with Hibernian and St Mirren being two clubs strongly linked with the former Cardiff striker. It is thought such a move would also be particularly attractive to the player since he would also then be nearer his family with St Mirren also being his boyhood club. This week it looked like St Mirren had won the battle for his services although as yet there has been no confirmation. However, The Scottish Sun is now reporting that he has verbally agreed a two-year contract with Saints manager Danny Lennon and will sign when he returns from a family holiday.