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Burnley’s pre-season takes an interesting turn tonight with a trip to Horwich to face Bolton Wanderers with us wondering whether he will be taking a look into a crystal ball to see where we will be in 2026.

For over six years now we’ve been led to believe that we are some ten years behind them so it is a worry given the decline there which has seen them relegated twice in four years and now ready to play in the third tier of English football for the first time since 1993.

Unlike us, they are under new management this season having appointed Bradford City’s Phil Parkinson as the permanent replacement for Neil Lennon; like us they are having problems getting players in with Parkinson believing he still needs at least three or four more signings ahead of the season which, for them, starts in 11 days time.

Ashley Barnes is a doubt with a tight hamstring

Ashley Barnes is a doubt with a tight hamstring

They’ve currently got out of contract players training with them, including David Wheater who was a Bolton player last season, and Danny Collins and Neal Eardley who ended last season with Rotherham and Birmingham respectively. Parkinson doesn’t know whether he can offer them anything until he’s spoken to chairman Ken Anderson with whom he will be meeting today.

They go into tonight’s game having beaten York 2-0 at Bootham Crescent last Saturday with goals from Mark Davies and Jamie Proctor, the second of them from the penalty spot. Their team was: Mark Howard, Frazer Richardson (Neal Eardley), Alex Finney, Mark Beevers (Danny Collins), Dean Moxey, Mark Davies (Josh Vela), Jay Spearing, Darren Pratley, Zach Clough (Jamie Proctor), Gary Madine (Alex Samizadeh), Max Clayton (George Newell). Subs not used: Ben Amos, Will Jaaskelainen, Alex Perry, Jack Earing, Cole Lonsdale, Harry Brockbank, Tom Grivosti.

Burnley, meanwhile, played some good football against Bradford City on Saturday, Parkinson’s former club, but I would expect the home side tonight to be a little stronger than the one that Stuart McCall put out at Valley Parade.

There will be question marks as to whether either or both of Ashley Barnes and Lukas Jutkiewicz will be fit after both pulled up with hamstring problems. The news coming out of Valley Parade was of Barnes struggling and set for a scan so I would certainly think he’s the least likely of the pair to be involved. Certainly, if there is any doubt as to their fitness then they won’t feature.

Sam Vokes is back but yesterday was his first day of training and I believe that was also the case for Johann Berg Gudmundsson so it would be a surprise to see either feature with both likely to be involved at Rangers this Saturday at the earliest.

I’m not sure when we last travelled to Bolton for a pre-season friendly; I do know we played them at Burnden Park in July 1969 when the game ended in a 1-1 draw with Doug Collins scoring our goal. We also played there at the end of the 1972/73 season in the Warwick Rimmer testimonial. On that occasion it was Bolton, who included the new England manager Sam Allardyce, who won 3-1 with our goal from Geoff Nulty.

The last time the two sides met in a friendly was just over ten years ago at Turf Moor and it proved to be a really enjoyable game as we prepared to move to Lake Garda to finish our pre-season.

This time Allardyce was in charge of Bolton but we beat his side 2-1 with Andy Gray and Micah Hyde scoring our goals and Bolton’s response coming from Ricardo Vaz Te.

The teams were;

Burnley: Brian Jensen, Frank Sinclair, Wayne Thomas, John McGreal (Stephen Foster 45), Jon Harley, Steve Jones (Wade Elliott 75), Micah Hyde (Chris McCann 79), James O’Connor, Alan Mahon (Kyle Lafferty 63), Graham Branch (Garreth O’Connor 42), Andy Gray (Gifton Noel-Williams 84). Sub not used: John Spicer.

Bolton Wanderers: Jussi Jaaskelainen (Ian Walker 32, Ali Al Habsi 61), Joey O’Brien (Johann Smith 45), Quinton Fortune (Sean Mountford 56), Nicky Hunt (Mark Charlesworth 69), Tal Ben Haim, Gary Speed (Abdoulaye Faye 45), El-Hadji Diouf (Leslie Thompson 60), Kevin Nolan (Blazej Augustyn 45), Kevin Davies (Robert Sissons 45), Idan Tal, Ricardo Vaz Te (Nathan Wolfe 62).

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