Date:Monday March 7 2011
Tuesday 8th March 2011
The Clarets will be hoping their good run of form of late in the Championship will continue on Tuesday night when they travel to the KC Stadium to play Hull City.
Eddie Howe has certainly lifted both fans spirit and team performances since arriving at Turf Moor in January. Under his management, the Clarets have lost only one game in eight matches in the Championship and have picked up a remarkable 11 points from 18 on the road since his arrival which includes three wins and two draws. Now we have to keep the run of away form going against Hull City if we want to keep up the pressure on teams above us fighting for promotion and a play-offs spot. We are well-placed at the moment in 7th place with crucially a two game advantage over all six clubs above us. The gap though is still four points with Leeds in sixth spot also winning on Saturday. We will need to make our two game advantage count with just thirteen league games of the season still remaining but at least both these games against Coventry and Middlesbrough are at home.
Hull have improved of late and are now breathing down our necks one place and one point behind us albeit having played two games more. Their performance on the road has been particularly impressive. Indeed the last time they lost away was when Burnley tonked them 4-0 at Turf Moor back in September. They have since won six and drawn seven of their last 13 away games in the Championship! Their home form is not too bad of late either although is pretty even having lost 2, won 2 and drawn 2 in their last six home games. The Tigers lost their last home game though going down 2-0 to high-flying Cardiff but the heads will be high again following a 1-0 win at Forest in their last match. This won`t be easy for the Clarets and once again the pressure will be on for Howe`s men to get something from this clash.
Tigers' manager Nigel Pearson has a major injury concern regarding goalkeeper Vito Mannone.
The Italian stopper is on loan from Arsenal but now appears to be suffering from a recurrence of a thigh injury that previously kept him sidelined for two months. He played in Hull`s victory away to Forest on Saturday but complained of discomfort at the top of his thigh. So much so that the centre backs jointly shared kicking duties at the City Ground.
It is understood he is being assessed by the Club`s medical staff today but if the problem is serious enough, Hull will have to bring in an emergency loan keeper. They only currently have rookie keeper, Mark Oxley available and Pearson could be reluctant to risk him. Matt Duke is now on loan at Derby County for the rest of the season although they could recall him and on-loan American goalkeeper Brad Guzan has returned to parent club Aston Villa after a two-month spell at the KC Stadium. Guzan could though be favourite to make a quick return if Mannone is not fit enough to play.
Matty Fryatt is Hull`s leading goal-scorer in the Championship this season with seven goals to date including the 64th minute winner against Forest at the City Ground on Saturday. The 1-0 victory was Forest`s first defeat at home in 36 matches.
Hull signed the 25 year old striker from Leicester City in this year`s January window for a £1.2 million fee. Fryatt then scored on his Tigers debut after coming on from the bench in the game against Portsmouth. More goals followed including a hat-trick against Scunthorpe and indeed all his seven goals have been scored wearing a Hull shirt! The Clarets will certainly need to keep him in check.
We do not appear to have any additional injuries to worry about following the home win against Palace on Saturday but of course we do now have far fewer options in attack after losing Charlie Austin last Monday night after he dislocated his shoulder in training. He will be out for rest of the season and the same fate is in store for Martin Paterson sidelined with a thigh injury.
Steven Thompson too underwent surgery last week to fix a persistent infected groin problem and he too could miss out until the new season although there is more hope in his case that he could recover in time to still feature this season. Wes Fletcher is also struggling with an ankle injury.
Our only other casualty is midfielder, Chris McCann. He has returned to light training now following head surgery last month to remove excess fluid after complaining about continual migraine problems.
The former Hull City midfielder will be wanting to one over his former club and he should certainly be up for this one. He has played well in recent games and will be hoping to play a more forward attacking midfield role and get on the score sheet again.
With no news of any fresh injury concerns for Eddie Howe we can probably expect him to remain loyal and name the same eighteen as Saturday for the Palace match.
Our main problem of course is our striker situation having lost Austin, Thompson, Paterson and even young Wes Fletcher to injury. Chris Iwelumo too seems to be struggling at the moment and there is some concern he is injured. He was certainly hobbling about a few times in the Palace game.
If he is fit though, he could start again with Rodriguez playing a wider role although I expect at some point he will be substituted in the second half and Rodriguez will finish up being our lone striker. Iwelumo though does need to start scoring again, his performances of late have been lacklustre to say the least and you just sense at the moment he is not suited to our style of play unless we suddenly revert to hoof ball!
We can expect the following team selection then:
Grant, Mears, Carlisle, Duff, Fox, Eagles, Cork, Marney, Wallace, Iwelumo, Rodriguez
Subs: Jensen, Easton, Bikey, Edgar, Alexander, Elliott, Bartley
It is hoped that the Clarets won`t be walking in Deadman`s shoes this Tuesday night! Yep the man in charge will be Cambridgeshire referee, Darren Deadman! Deadman, 34 is a Civil Servant during his day job in Peterborough. He progressed to the National List via the Isthmian League and Panel Leagues joining the National List of assistant referees in 2000 and the referees` list in 2005. This will be his first game in charge this season in a match featuring the Clarets. In 19 games this season at Championship level or lower league, he has dished out five red cards and 73 yellow ones.
This will be a tough game and it is hard to see us repeating the tonking we gave them last season in the Premier League clash at the KC Stadium. We won that one 4-1 and then scored another 4 against them in the 4-0 win at Turf Moor earlier in the season. I will be happy with a 2-2 draw this time providing we then go on to beat Millwall at Turf Moor on Saturday.
The Clarets are back in action at Turf Moor this Saturday (12th March 3pm Kick-Off) when they take on out-of-form Millwall.
Date:Monday March 7 2011
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