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hull 1000x500By the time Burnley next play at Turf Moor we’ll have done an almost coastal trip around Britain to Hull on the East Coast, to Swansea in South Wales, to Liverpool on Merseyside and finally to Sunderland on the North Sea up in Tyne & Wear.

Four successive away games – it was a massive talking point last June when the Liverpool games were switched but then, given they were months away, we didn’t think too much more about them other than to note that we’d probably need to be outside of the bottom three when we got to them.

They are here now and I’ve got all my four tickets waiting to be used, the first of them tomorrow at the KCOM Stadium where we play a rejuvenated Hull side who have now got within touching distance of the teams outside of the bottom three.

I just wish we would get an away win. It might be that we won’t need one but it would certainly stop all the focus being on the away wins column every time we are on the road. I know ten defeats in eleven suggests we are likely to get another defeat, but they won’t continue and this Burnley squad, remember, was capable of getting a point against Manchester United at Old Trafford, albeit with a little bit of help from our goalkeeper Tom Heaton.

Last week a number of the regular starters in the first team watched the cup defeat from the dug out and that included right-back Matt Lowton who has missed only a couple of our league games this season; he was left out of the team beaten at Stoke and also missed the Boxing Day win against Middlesbrough through suspension.

“It’s a crucial time,” he said. “The away form hasn’t been anything like we wanted, but we have been to some tough places and in the four that are coming up we’ve got some winnable games. We know they are going to be tough but we have been putting in better performances away from home recently so if we take that into Saturday and he forthcoming ones we’ll hopefully get some points.”

Lowton hasn’t played any cup ties in his two years at Burnley and he admitted: “Staying in the league has always been the biggest thing for us this season. We have started off really well and given ourselves a good chance and we’ve got another one on Saturday to put some more points on the board.”

Lowton is a certainty to return to the side after sitting out the cup tie, as are fellow full back Stephen Ward, central defender Ben Mee, wide man Robbie Brady and striker Ashley Barnes and should Sean Dyche opt for George Boyd and Brady as his two wide men we will be starting with two former Hull players in our line up.

That won’t be three with Dean Marney ruled out for some months. We’ll also again be without Steven Defour who is back in training but not ready to play and Johan Berg Gudmundsson who has been added to the injury list after picking up a knee injury last week. Jeff Hendrick, who is hardly recognisable after losing much of his hair, will complete his three match ban tomorrow.

I think the team will be the one that started the game against Chelsea two weeks ago which is: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, Michael Keane, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, George Boyd, Ashley Westwood, Joey Barton, Robbie Brady, Ashley Barnes, Andre Gray. Subs: Paul Robinson, Jon Flanagan, Tendayi Darikwa, James Tarkowski, Kevin Long, Scott Arfield, Sam Vokes.

Hull won their first two games this season against all the odds but then struggled with former Burnley central defender Micky Phelan in charge. When Micky lost his job they were bottom of the league and had won only once more. One win in 18 games had cost him his job with the surprise that he was to be replaced by Portuguese Marco Silva whose previous job had been with Olympiacos in Greece.

He got off to a winning start and his record is good with seven points from his five league games in charge and he was certainly welcomed with a tough looking immediate fixture list. That first game was a home win against Bournemouth but they’ve since played Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal away, losing 2-0 at Chelsea and Arsenal while drawing 0-0 at United, and at home they beat Liverpool 2-0.

It’s very tight at the bottom of the league but they now have one point more than both Crystal Palace and Sunderland and are within striking distance of Leicester and Middlesbrough who are one and two points above them.

Like Burnley, they will have players missing through injury. Defenders Michael Dawson and Curtis Davies remain out of the side with calf and hamstring injuries and they continue to be without Markus Henriksen who has a shoulder injury.

Moses Odubajo and Will Keane are long term absentees as is Ryan Mason who suffered that horrific head injury recently at Chelsea. Brazilian midfielder Evandro is also ruled out with a calf problem and they too have a suspension problem with Sam Clucas missing through a one match ban.

One player fit though is Abel Hernandez. He is expected to play although it could be his last game with interest from China and suggestions of a move before their transfer deadline next week.

Their team is expected to include two players who could so easily have been in the Burnley team. Andrew Robertson, who will play left back, was close to joining us last month and wide player Kamil Grosicki was even closer last August. The odds are short on Grosicki starting tomorrow.

The news from Hull is that their likely starting eleven will be: Eldin Jakupovic, Ahmed Elmohamady, Andrea Ranocchia, Harry Maguire, Andrew Robertson, Lazar Markovic, Tom Huddlestone, Alfred N’Diaye, Kamil Grosicki, Abel Hernandez, Oumar Niasse.

 

LAST TIME WE WERE THERE

 

Games at Hull in recent years have been enjoyable affairs but the last visit very definitely didn’t fall into that category. Firstly, the journey to Hull last Boxing Day was a nightmare for many Burnley supporters fighting their way through the floods and ours definitely fell into that category.

The return home for some found the M62 closed due to damage caused by the rain and in between the two journeys we turned in a pretty abject performance in a 3-0 defeat.

To be honest, Hull were no better than us in a dreadful first goalless half but that all changed after the break as Hull stepped things up. It took them 12 second half minutes to get themselves in front through Jake Livermore and nine minutes later it was 2-0 with a goal from Abel Hernandez.

We made a couple of changes with Rouwen Hennings, one of the substitutes, coming closest to getting us back into it, but long before the end it was clear there would be no way back for Burnley.

Hull rubbed it in with a third in stoppage time. Sam Clucas scored that one and left Burnley with the biggest Championship defeat since the 4-0 at Cardiff on the Saturday before Sean Dyche became Burnley manager.

At the final whistle, the points had taken Hull into third place just three points behind leaders Derby. Burnley were fifth but six points behind the next team with half of the season gone.

The game signalled the end for Michael Duff’s playing career, and other players were left out for the Bristol City game days later. It proved to be a real turning point with the Clarets not losing again for the remainder of the season and finishing as champions. Hull’s season ended with a fourth place finish and they joined us in the Premier League with a play-off win against Sheffield Wednesday at Wembley.

The teams were;

Hull: Allan McGregor, Moses Odubajo, Harry Maguire, Curtis Davies, Andrew Robertson, Ahmed Elmohamady, Jake Livermore (Isaac Hayden 89), David Meyler, Sam Clucas, Mohamed Diame (Tom Huddlestone 83), Abel Hernandez (Robert Snodgrass 84). Subs not used: Eldin Jakupovic, Shaun Maloney, Chuba Akpom, Adama Diomande.

Burnley: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, Michael Duff, Michael Keane, Ben Mee, George Boyd (Matt Taylor 76), Dean Marney, Joey Barton, Scott Arfield (Michael Kightly 68), Sam Vokes, Andre Gray (Rouwen Hennings 69). Subs not used: Matt Gilks, Tendayi Darikwa, Stephen Ward, David Jones.

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