Date:Friday March 16 2007
17th March 2007
What odds would you give the Clarets beating Preston this Saturday? We have only gone 17 matches without a win now and now find ourselves getting dragged into a relegation battle despite matches in hand and a superior goal-difference. Its no good if we cant win and its imperative we do so quickly and break this awful run. The mind would dictate you wouldnt fancy our chances againt Preston who are still up there in 4th place battling for a play-offs position if not automatic promotion. The only comfort at the moment is that their form has not been as impressive of late and even their own fans seem nervous of this match. Maybe derbies are always different and the form book goes out the window. Guess we just have to hope this is the case tomorrow but this is probably the worst possible time to be playing our local rivals at their place.
'With the results that have happened in the last couple of nights, to be fair, we're in a fight with the others. We mentioned that in the dressing room 10 days ago, and we're in that fight now,' admitted Cotterill.
'The home games will be important because the crowd are passionate here. But the players will fight tooth and nail, make no bones about it.
'We know that three teams have to get above us, but we're not blase about it. I don't think we ever have been, even when we are top of the league.
'The characteristics of myself and the squad's personalities have never changed. There's still a hard work ethic there, as there was then.
'We just need to get a win - and we're due one!'
'The goal difference is nearly always a sign of where you are. Sometimes you get goal differences of minus 20 after some hidings, but we've been pretty good as regards that.
'I know there is a lack of goals scored, and we've been working every day on it
'Sometimes you just need that extra bit of quality at the other end, to unlock the door, whether it be a free kick or by someone dropping his shoulder.
'We have felt we haven't got enough of us in the opposition box, and we've worked on getting bodies into the box when people have been wide.'
'We are capable of beating Preston, as we've shown, but we need that rub of the green at the moment,' he insisted.
'A local derby is a good game to look forward to, and I think there will be pressure on both teams for different reasons.
'We still need to prepare like we have done for every game, go there and hopefully get that rub of the green.
'To get a result for the supporters, chairman and directors would be great, and you never know. Things can happen and if we can get our noses in front, that would be a big bonus and fillip for our players.
'A win at Preston could be a big turning point.'
Preston North End look likely to field the same line-up which won 1-0 over Ipswich in midweek. Paul McKenna who has missed the last three matches after undergoing hernia surgery may return but its 'touch and go'. Michael Ricketts has a calf injury and the former Claret loan is also doubtful.
McKenna and Ricketts along with Lewis Neal are all facing late fitness tests.
Pavel Pergl could come into the defence and Kelvin Wilson is also expected to be recalled.
In the news at the moment regarding the England call-up and always a danger. No doubt if Ricketts plays he will score against us though!
This can be summed up as a back four headache. Thomas is still recovering from a cartilage operation and is unlikely to be fit. McGreal and Foster both went off injured against Southend with Duff hobbling about for the last minute or so of the same match at Roots Hall. Mahon is also still unavailable due to a hamstring problem
No idea therefore what the line up will be but it looks ominous in defence. Harley and Caldwell may be joined by Chris McCann, Wade Elliott and/or Graham Branch in the back four if the injured players remain so.
The other question should be whether Gudjonsson should be dropped with Djembe-Djembe given a chance. Ade Akinbiyi and Andy Gray are likely to be the striking pair again despite their continued underpar performances, unless Cotterill thinks its worth Lafferty starting up front with Gray.
The only player with confidence it seems at the moment. A commanding figure in the back four with strong leadership skills. His captaincy in this local derby will be a true test
Oh if only we could return to the form that saw us beat Preston 3-2 in that dramatic game at Turf Moor last October. That match was televised by Sky and one wonders if that video is used by the Clarets management as a motivational tool! It should be
Colin Webster (Shotley Bridge)
Mind says tonking, heart prays for a sneaky win against all the odds! 1-1 because I am a coward!
Luton at Turf Moor-Saturday 31st March @ 3pm
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Date:Friday March 16 2007
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