Rochdale Brings Pre-Season Schedule to a Close
The Clarets have had a good summer winning all four of their pre-season friendlies to date and now they could make it a full house if they can beat League 2, Rochdale at Spotland tonight (Tuesday 7th August)in the last of their friendly clashes before the new season kicks off. Burnley have defeated four clubs on the road so far with victories over Altrincham, Bury Bath City and Cheltenham although the opposition has hardly been that challenging with all the teams coming from the lower leagues . Rochdale are not exactly much tougher opposition either. They were relegated back to League 2 last season after two seasons in League 1 so former Accrington Stanley gaffer, John Coleman will be hoping to return to League 1 at his first attempt. Coleman joined Rochdale in January 2012 replacing Steve Eyre. Eyre, who had replaced Keith Hill following his departure to Barnsley in June 2011, was only in charge for 27 games before being sacked with the club already struggling. Coleman was unable to prevent the club`s relegation and they find themselves once more plying their trade in the bottom tier of league football.
Burnley`s official first team squad of 28 players with their shirt numbers were announced over the weekend and if you take out the Development Squad names and those on the periphery of the first team you are left with 21 recognised first team players.
Marvin Bartley is the only player who is out injured with no news of any further injuries following Saturday`s 4-0 thumping of Cheltenham. It will be interesting to see if Eddie Howe selects these 20 for his squad against Rochdale. Against the Robins only Brian Jensen and Keith Treacy were absent and it is quite possible both these recognised first team players will be back in contention against Rochdale. Howe will now have a good idea of his potential starting eleven for the Championship opener against Bolton at Turf Moor on Saturday 18th August and could be tempted to test them out against Rochdale. Before that though there is the Capital One Cup first round clash against Port Vale at Vale Park on Tuesday 14th August and traditionally in these sorts of games some of the young guns and peripheral first team players get a chance to shine so Howe might also have one eye on that match. Both Martin Paterson and Danny Lafferty will be on international duty for Northern Ireland and will be out of contention for the Port Vale game but both could be strong contenders for the Bolton game. It will be interesting to see how many of the development squad players and fringe first team players feature against Rochdale. The three players who have featured the most in the friendlies to date are Jon Stewart, Alex MacDonald and Kevin Long and I suspect at least the two out-players could be named again along with the 20 available recognised first team players. Of the other young guns, Cameron Howieson of course has been on Olympic duty for the New Zealand football team and Wes Fletcher and Steven Hewitt have featured in some of the earlier friendlies along with Joe Jackson. Quite a few of these players look likely to be sent out on loan in order to gain match experience although at least the subs bench is now back to seven allowing more opportunity for the younger players to shine. The loan process though looks to have already started with news on Monday that Barrow AFC are expected to complete the loan signings of Burnley duo Joe Jackson and Tom Anderson this morning.
Let`s for the moment then assume Eddie Howe will select his 20 recognised fit first team players along with Alex MacDonald and Kevin Long for the trip to Rochdale. You can now all have some fun. It is virtually impossible to know what the starting eleven will be against Rochdale but why not select a starting eleven and bench for the Bolton game and another for the Port vale game? You can then see if Howe gets anywhere near your selections for the Rochdale clash tonight.
This would be my choice:
Bolton match: Grant, Trippier, Shackell, Edgar, Lafferty, Wallace, McCann, Marney, Stanislas, Vokes, Austin Subs: Jensen, Mee, Mills, Porter, Paterson, Ings
Port Vale match: Jensen, O`Neill, Shackell, Duff, Mills, Treacy, McCann, Marney, Stanislas, Ings, Austin Subs: Stewart (or Grant), Trippier, Edgar, Mee(or Long), Porter(or Wallace),MacDonald, Vokes