The Opposition: Burnley

Last updated : 06 November 2007 By Tony Scholes
The Gameplan
The plan will no doubt be to get forward at every opportunity, bringing Robbie Blake into the game as much as possible. He'll come deep to get the ball and is very much a key player in the way we play.

The squad is bigger this season and that in itself makes us stronger. On the field there's no doubt that there are goals in the team with players such as Andy Gray and Robbie Blake up front and a very attack-minded midfield. I said last year in this article that we would be stronger if we could add a Blake or an Akinbiyi to the squad, and we've now added both.

The squad is still smaller than most clubs' in this division but the main weakness this season has been an inability to keep clean sheets and a horrible habit of conceding goals from set pieces. Get that right, and there were signs on Saturday that we might, and we are a good side.

Irish international defender Michael Duff and the exciting and talented Albania forward Besart Berisha are both ruled out for the season with cruciate ligament injuries. To add to that, captain and central defender Steven Caldwell is facing a six week break with a torn thigh tendon.

Otherwise we are just hopeful that we came through Saturday's game at Sheffield United without any further injuries. We have no players out suspended.

Player by Player (4-4-2):
Gabor Kiraly - considered to be somewhat eccentric by many, presumably because of him wearing those grey tracksuit bottoms during games. Don't be fooled; he's a very good goalkeeper with over 70 international caps for Hungary.

Graham Alexander - vastly experienced defender signed from Preston just before the transfer window closed. He initially played in midfield for us but moved back to right back following Duff's injury. Made the PFA divisional team last season and that was no surprise.

Clarke Carlisle - been a little bit inconsistent since signing from Watford but at his best is a commanding central defender, and has the ability to get up for set pieces and score goals, although we are still to see that.

David Unsworth - couldn't get my head round this signing at the time, but I can now. In for the injured Caldwell you can see why he's spent most of his career in the Premier League. Turned in an awesome display at Bramall Lane last time out.

Stephen Jordan - signed from Manchester City in the summer and he completes a defence who have all joined us since the end of last season. Had a few tough games recently and has a lot to do to get the Burnley crowd onside.

Wade Elliott - the last year has seen Wade become a regular in the side and he ended last season in particularly good form. Still waiting for his first goal this season but he leads the Football League stats for assists. A very good crosser of the ball.

John Spicer - looked to be heading out after failing to start a single game last season but has won his place back recently and turned in some very good performances. Has the ability to find the defence-splitting pass from midfield and is a very mobile player.

Chris McCann - young Republic of Ireland midfielder and you really have to wonder why he hasn't received any international recognition, not even at Under-21 level. Much improved and gets more than his fair share of goals from midfield.

Kyle Lafferty - star of the Northern Ireland side, he plays on the left-hand-side for us. He's another youngster who is getting better and stronger. We've already turned down a £3 million offer for him.

Robbie Blake - so disappointed we had to sell him almost three years ago but delighted to see him come back in the summer. Sold for £1.5 million and returned for £250,000. That would be good business for any player but to get a player of Robbie's class for that small amount was a brilliant piece of business by Steve Cotterill.

Andy Gray - so important to us. We lost him to injury last season and the whole season collapsed. He scores goals, he holds the ball up and he brings others into play. Very highly rated player who was a steal when we got him from Sunderland.

Brian Jensen
- sub goalkeeper, longest serving player at Burnley having signed from West Brom in the summer of 2003. Lost his place after giving away a last minute goal against Blackpool.

Jon Harley - lost his left back spot this season but played the first couple of games on the left hand side of midfield. Returned as a sub on Saturday for the injured Jordan but a much different player. Smaller, so not so good in the air, but quicker and probably more of an attacking threat.

James O'Connor - midfielder who has been out of favour this season and hasn't started a game. Has previously been a regular in Steve Cotterill's team. Won't start but will be on the bench and is a scrapping type of midfielder who is adept at breaking up play.

Alan Mahon - unlucky not to be starting. A quality midfielder who is comfortable on the ball and has the ability to set up goals. Can play wide or in the centre and will almost certainly play a part.

Ade Akinbiyi - another forward who we sold and brought back for a lot less money, and all within a year. Not got into the starting line up this season but has been very effective from the bench. He might not be the most technically gifted but he's strong, quick, and scores goals. Massively popular with the Turf Moor crowd.

Click here for full squad list

Tony Scholes is editor of Clarets-Mad