Date:Saturday April 5 2008
5th April 2008
The Clarets take the long trek down to East Anglia today, knowing that three points against Norwich at Carrow Road can be the only outcome if they wish to keep their slim play-offs hopes alive.
Burnley are currently in tenth place on 58 points, three points behind sixth placed club, Wolves who also have a game in hand.
The sixth place now is realistically the only available play-offs place still to fight for with the Top Five clubs now pulling ahead. Seven clubs are competing for that spot; three of those clubs have a game in hand over the Clarets and all six of them a better goal difference.
It will not be easy to knock the Canaries off their perch with the Norwich side on a bit of a resurgent run and unlucky last week not to get a point at high-flying Bristol City. They were defeated 2-1 with Bristol City getting the winner in the last minute of the game. In their last home match they thumped bottom club Colchester 5-1. However they lost their previous two home games and only collected a total of four points in March.
Norwich are in 17th place only three points clear of Southampton in the relegation zone. Three points today therefore are vital for both clubs for different reasons and both teams should be up for this match in what on paper should be an entertaining game.
The Clarets will be without Clarke Carlisle, still sitting out his suspension after being red-carded at Preston in the dying seconds of the match two weeks ago.
The good news for the Clarets is that Michael Duff has been declared fit to play after a long injury with cruciate ligament damage. He sustained the injury in a match against Crystal Palace at Turf Moor back in September last year and has made quite a remarkable recovery since and already played six matches in the reserves in the last few weeks getting himself ready for a first-team return.
It will be interesting to see if Coyle is tempted to throw the defender in the deep end by selecting him for the starting eleven. I suspect however he might be named on the bench and given a run out at some stage.
It is likely Coyle could select the same back four that played against Barnsley in our match last week at the Turf. Stan Varga is also fit to play but looks likely to be the one to miss out.
The Clarets do not appear to have any other injury concerns and have a full squad to select from with the exception of course of Jones & Rodriguez out on loan and Besart Berisha.
Berisha is another player suffering from long term cruciate ligament damage this season and he has yet to make his debut for the Clarets. It was announced this week that the player is likely to be available for first team selection at the start of next season.
One question that needs to be resolved is that of Kyle Lafferty and the position he will be given against Norwich assuming he is selected to play. Lafferty led the line last week after playing out wide left for most of this season. He rewarded his manager by scoring a wonder goal that would be a candidate for Clarets Goal of the Season and also picked up the Sponsors Man of the Match Award.
With Ade Akinbiyi and Andrew Cole also fit, Coyle has a selection dilemma in terms of the front two and there is also the little matter of where to play Blake. It is possible he might stick with the same starting eleven as last week with both Akinbiyi and Cole on the bench.
A possible sixteen could be as follows:
Jensen, Alexander, Caldwell, Unsworth, Harley, Elliott, James O`Connor, McCann, Gudjonsson, Blake, Lafferty
Subs: Kiraly, Duff, Akinbiyi, Cole, Randall (or Mahon or Spicer!)
Come on you Clarets, it`s time for a miracle this season and to start by ensuring that the Canaries are not allowed to sing!
'As much as going away from home and people thinking a point would be good, we will be trying to win the game.
We can't afford to be off for one more game, so the one thing we will do is to go there and be positive because it is wins we are after and wins we need.
It will be a difficult task because they (Norwich) were very unfortunate last weekend, but we know it will be a cracker in terms of two footballing sides going for it- and we will look to come out on top.'
Maceo Rigters the on-loan striker is back with Blackburn for treatment on a torn hamstring and could miss the rest of the season.
Gary Doherty has been back in training after missing the trip to Ashton Gate with a back injury and could come into contention in the starting eleven.
Darel Russell has also suffered from illness recently and the midfielder is hoping to be fit for this match but remains a doubt.
Mark Fotheringham also picked up a knock last weekend but now looks fit to start
Juan Velasco is sidelined with a thigh injury.
I would have automatically said Darren Huckerby but I will be guided by Alex, the Vital Norwich Editor for this one. He selects stalwart Dion Dublin with the following comments:
"Everything that has been good about Norwich recently has been through the veteran striker.
After crashing a header against the crossbar at Ashton Gate and gelling the front-line expertly, he finds an extra gear at Carrow Road which makes him a formidable opponent. "
Michael Duff is now declared available for first team selection after a six-month absence with knee cruciate ligament damage and hamstring injuries.
Carlisle is sitting out the second of his three match ban
All eyes will be on Kyle Lafferty after his stunning goal in the last match, not to mention his brace for Northern Ireland against Georgia a few days before. Will Coyle select him in the centre again though?
We thumped Norwich 4-1 away last season with the Sky Cameras at Carrow Rd. It was to be Nigel Worthington's last match in charge at Norwich. A brace from Gray, one from James O'Connor and one goal from Mahon did the damage.
Last season we did the double over them beating them 3-0 at Turf Moor almost a year ago (Elliott,Akinbiyi and Gray got the goals).
We also made it four wins on the trot against the Canaries, defeating them 2-1 at Turf Moor back in October this season with Gray and Blake scoring.
Russell J Booth (Nottinghamshire)
I think we can shade this match by the odd goal. I will plump for 2-1 Clarets
Sheffield United at Turf Moor. Saturday 12th April @ 3pmKO
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Date:Saturday April 5 2008
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