Date:Saturday March 1 2008
1st March 2008
The Clarets play their second game at Turf Moor in five days today with high-flying Watford the visitors.
On Tuesday night we beat Coventry to move within two points of the play-offs in 9th place. It was also our first 'double` of the season and we now have chance to make it our second.
The Clarets beat Watford 2-1 at Vicarage Road back in November in Owen Coyle`s second match in charge.
Watford though are now 3rd on 60 points, that`s ten points ahead of the Clarets so the match will not be easy.
The good news is that both Stan Varga (Flu) and Andrew Cole (Achilles Tendon injury) look to be both fit again although it is not clear whether Coyle will select them for the sixteen or not.
Alan Mahon also played his first game for sometime against Preston Reserves in midweek along with Michael Duff but both are unlikely to feature this Saturday although both look close to a return.
Mark Randall, our loan midfielder from Arsenal also impressed against Coventry after coming on from the bench in the second-half and may have claimed a starting eleven place.
Owen Coyle therefore seems to have a number of selection dilemmas with most of the squad fit, no suspension problems and all players seemingly in good form.
Coyle will probably stick with the same back-four with Clarke Carlisle playing against his former club and partnered by Alexander, Caldwell and Harley. Unsworth and Varga look likely to miss out.
The midfield if Randall starts could mean Gudjonsson relegated to the bench and will there be a starting eleven place for Lafferty and Blake?
Our best strike pairing would have to be Cole and Akinbiyi based on recent form and the left side wing position remains a problem with Lafferty not really excelling in that position or for that matter in attack after the Plymouth match.
A possible starting eleven could be:
Jensen, Alexander, Carlisle, Caldwell, Harley, Elliott, Randall, McCann, Lafferty, Akinbiyi, Cole
Subs: Kiraly, Blake, Gudjonsson, James O`Connor, Unsworth or Varga
There are far too many options though and certainly four of those substitutes don`t really deserve to be excluded from the starting eleven but that`s the dilemma we are told managers enjoy!
'Looking ahead, I would expect to have Andrew Cole and Stan Varga to be available. Given the fact we had a great result the other night that gives me some selection dilemmas, but that's the kind of problems that managers want.'
'We've got good players and we can win games, and we have shown that against the very best in the Championship. So nothing will deter us from trying to do that on a game to game basis.
'If we hadn't won against Coventry the other night, then I think we were playing serious catch up. As it is we're two points off fifth and if you look at our next five games we play teams within the top eight, so it is all very much in our hands and they are all huge games.'
'It is the biggest game of the season, there is no doubt about that, and that will continue all the way now because such is the nature of this game they are all six pointers. If we can go and win it that can cement us in amongst the top group and that's got to be our motivation.'
Varga and Cole could return but it is too early for Duff and Mahon (see above). Mark Randall may have earned a place in the starting eleven
The Arsenal loan midfielder was very impressive against Coventry with pinpoint passing and some good shots on goal.
My thanks to the Vital Watford Editor for providing these notes:
A week spent out in Dubai, strictly for training purposes mind, has seen skipper Jay DeMerit, Steve Kabba and Lee Williamson leap back into contention for Saturday.
Club captain DeMerit has been out for around a month due to a groin problem allowing Dan Shittu and Leigh Bromby to build a solid partnership.
However, the American looks set to return alongside Shittu with Bromby switching to right-back ahead of Mariappa.
Lee Williamson has been missing from the first-team of late due to John Eustace's form, but with O'Toole short of form, Aidy looks set to re-instate the former Miller ahead of Al Bangura.
Up top, Nathan Ellington's drab performance last Saturday looks set to re-aquaint him with his old friend the bench with Steve Kabba given the chance to test the returning Stan Varga; according to sources close to Vital Watford...
Steve Kabba could be the danger man to watch if he makes the starting eleven but hopefully Carlisle the former Watford defender will be able to help snuff out the Watford attacks.
The last time we played Watford at Turf Moor was two seasons ago when we thumped them 4-1 although that shock didn`t stop them getting promoted and spending a season in the top flight.
As mentioned above we defeated them at Vicarage Road back in November 2007 2-1 with Gray and Gudjonsson getting the goals. We are chasing a double therefore, only our second of the season despite our second-best away form in the League. The best? Watford;so we better watch out!
Championship novice Dean Whitestone will officiate in the game. His first involving the Clarets Whitestone from Northampton is highly inexperienced at this level having refereed only 6 matches in the Championship since joining the Football League in 2005. His biggest match was probably the 2006 Conference National Play-off final between Halifax and Hereford. Not one to hold back with the cards he has already flashed 80 yellows and 7 reds in just 23 games this season so far albeit mainly at League and League 2 level.
2-1 Clarets and our second double in five days
Hull City at the KC on Tuesday 4th March at 7:45pm KO
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