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1718 burnley turf moor 01 1000x500It seems no time at all since the players were reporting back for pre-season training, but it’s actually over five weeks ago and tomorrow we will be playing our ninth and final pre-season game before things get underway for real next week with the visit of Southampton.

The first three games were behind closed doors, then it was the simultaneous games against Crewe and Port Vale before we travelled to Fleetwood and Wigan. Tuesday saw us play our first home game against OGS Nice and tomorrow Italian Serie A club Parma Calcio will be at Turf Moor, flying in from their training camp in Austria.

Parma finished 14th in last season’s Serie A, but what a journey they’ve been on in recent years to get there. They are a club who have had financial problems that would make the Bolton and Bury stories seem nothing. They were declared insolvent in 2004 brought about by the meltdown of the owner’s company which led to them being reformed under the name of Parma Football Club SpA although they remained in special administration for three years and their regular European place, something they’d achieved in 14 successive seasons, disappeared.

parmaThe ship eventually steadied and they finished sixth in 2014 but they were not permitted a return to Europe because of late payment of income tax on salaries. By the end of the following season, 2014/15, they finished 20th and had liabilities of €218 million which included €63 million in unpaid salaries.

They reformed again as S.S.D. Parma Calcio 1913, taking its name from the year of foundation of the first club but had to start in Serie D. Incredibly they achieved three successive promotions which enabled them to return to Serie A last season so the 14th place finish is a very creditable one.

This is, however, a club with a rich history. In the 1990s then won the European Cup Winners Cup, the European Super Cup and then the UEFA Cup on two occasions. That period also saw them win Coppa Italia on two occasions with a third win in 2001/02. Their managers during that period were first Nevio Scala and then Carlo Ancelotti.

In charge now is Roberto D’Aversa who is about to move into fourth season in charge having won the last two of the promotions. He’s confirmed that he’ll be bringing a 23 man squad for tomorrow’s game although that won’t include Brazilian Hernani, who is on loan from Zenit St. Petersburg, or their hugely experienced Ivory Coast midfielder Gervinho, who has won 80 caps for his country. Neither are able to travel due to what Parma describe as bureaucratic issues preventing them from entering the UK.

The squad which will be at Burnley tomorrow is:

Goalkeepers: Fabrizio Alastra, Simone Colombi, Luigi Sepe
Defenders: Bruno Alves, Kastriot Dermaku, Riccardo Gagliolo, Marcello Gazzola, Simone Iacoponi, Vincent Laurini, Giacomo Ricci, Luigi Scaglia
Midfielders: Antonino Barillà, Gastόn Brugman, Juraj Kucka, Dejan Kulusevski, José Machin, Gianni Munari, Matteo Scozzarella
Forwards: Fabio Ceravolo, Andreas Cornelius, Yann Karamoh, Roberto Inglese, Mattia Sprocati

Burnley fans often look at the final pre-season game as a clue to what the team might be for the opening league game but that’s not always been the case and Sean Dyche has hinted that we shouldn’t think so this year.

“We are looking at options,” he said. “There’s definitely a good feeling about the group and a real competitive edge. We want that to continue so I will look at that going into the weekend. Possibly it’s the first year where it’s not necessarily the team everyone thinks it will be because so many have put down a marker.

“It means the last game of pre-season might not be the team that starts against Southampton.”

One player definitely missing from the squad tomorrow who played in midweek against OGS Nice is, of course, Tom Heaton. It still feels strange that he’s no longer with us, but the good news is that Nick Pope could play. “He needs minutes, so he will play provided he’s fit and well,” Dyche said.

I expect Pope to play and there could also be a return to action or Robbie Brady who has been nursing a rib injury although the game might come too early for Robbie Brady.

It’s five years since we had Italian visitors at Turf Moor, that was Hellas Verona who we beat 3-2 with goals from Matt Taylor, Lukas Jutkiewicz and Ross Wallace.

Referee for tomorrow is Paul Tierney from Wigan.

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