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1718 burnley turf moor 04 1000x500Leicester City are the visitors at Turf Moor tomorrow as our ground finally stages a Premier League game for the first time since Everton were here six weeks ago.

It’s been a long wait, a wait that has included a week off because our opponents were still in the FA Cup, an international break and certainly not forgetting that we’ve played three away games which have brought us a massive return of nine points.

When we kicked off that game against Everton back in early March we had 37 points but now we are just one point short of fifty and looking to push on to at least hold on to this seventh place and then hope Southampton don’t go and spoil everything by winning the FA Cup.

Sam Vokes and Jack Cork scored the goals last week that saw us come from behind to beat Watford, but prior to that, all the goals we’d scored since my last preview for a home game had come from Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood with Wood having won himself a starting place in the team for the last two games.

Wood had come on as a substitute in that win against Everton and then again at West Ham, scoring three goals in the process. His first start since December came in the next game at West Brom where he and Barnes scored again.

West Brom was Wood’s first club in England and it was there he made his Premier League debut, coming on as a substitute for James Morrison in a 2-2 draw at Portsmouth in April 2009. The only other club he’s played top flight football for are Leicester. They were in the Championship when he first signed for them but made seven appearances for them in the first half of the 2014/15 season in the top flight.

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Wood has also played in the Europa League for Birmingham but he said ahead of tomorrow’s game: “For us, it’s just about going out and continuing our run and continuing our football. We won’t be thinking about that (Europa League) until the end of the season. We just focus on the next games and that’s what’s crucial to us.”

Admitting to being happy with his goal haul on his return from injury, he said: “Being out for ten games hasn’t really helped, especially midway through the season. It kind of breaks it up. I’m happy with where I’m at but I’d like to see a few more come the end of the season.”

Wood’s last Turf Moor start was the 3-0 defeat against Spurs just before Christmas when he was forced off with an injury that kept him out until that Everton win. Having got a starting berth, I think it is one he’ll retain for tomorrow’s game.

We don’t seem to be able to get away from injuries at the moment. Ben Mee missed last Saturday’s game and is now expected to be out for a while; it could be until the end of the season. And Georges-Kévin NKoudou is also now a doubt with a hamstring injury although there is better news on Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson who has missed the last two games with an injury picked up in America on international duty with Iceland.

I think Guðmundsson will return if fit which would mean a place on the bench for NKoudou if he passes a fitness test. I expect us to line up: Nick Pope, Matt Lowton, Kevin Long, James Tarkowski, Stephen Ward, Aaron Lennon, Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, Chris Wood, Ashley Barnes. Subs from: Tom Heaton, Phil Bardsley, Charlie Taylor, Dean Marney, Aiden O’Neill, Georges-Kévin NKoudou, Nahki Wells, Sam Vokes.

Leicester and Burnley have been side by side in the league since early December. They moved up to ninth when they beat us at the King Power and then to eighth when they won at Newcastle a week later. They’ve been in that position ever since other than for just over a week in January when they went above us into seventh when we lost against Manchester United. Our point at Newcastle restored the order and we’ve been one place ahead of them since.

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They’d been on a run of four games without defeat prior to last Saturday when they were beaten by Newcastle at home. They are still eighth but are now six points behind us in the table.

They’ve certainly had their ups and downs since becoming shock champions in the 2015/16 season. Last season saw Claudio Ranieri leave, not long after their defeat at Burnley, and this season Craig Shakespeare, his replacement, was also moved on with Claude Puel taking over.

They were 14th at the time but there has been an improvement since with nine wins in 23 games since the new manager took over and we all know the players to watch are Jamie Vardy (pictured) and Riyad Mahrez who seem to be the two players on form when Leicester win.

The players missing for Leicester tomorrow are Vicente Iborra and Burnley fan Matty James. Both are likely to be out for the remainder of the season. Wilfred Ndidi is also unavailable as he completes a two match suspension. One player who could return is Daniel Amartey who has recovered from a hamstring injury while Hamza Choudhury could get a start.

Their team against Newcastle last week was: Kasper Schmeichel, Danny Simpson, Wes Morgan, Harry Maguire, Ben Chilwell, Adrien Silva, Vicente Iborra, Riyad Mahrez, Fousseni Diabaté, Marc Albrighton, Jamie Vardy. Subs: Eldin Jakupovic, Hamza Choudhury, Demarai Gray, Kelechi Iheanacho, Christian Fuchs, Aleksandar Dragovic, Shinji Okasaki.

 

LAST TIME THEY WERE HERE

 

What a day it was for Burnley. It was the last day of the January transfer window in 2017. We’d signed Ashley Westwood earlier in the day, announced the signing of Robbie Brady at half time while a late Sam Vokes goal, with a hint of handball, gave us a 1-0 win against Leicester and a fifth successive home win, a record for us in the Premier League and our first run of five top flight home wins since 1966 when Willie Irvine was in his pomp.

The only disappointment in the entire day was getting a knock back from Marco Silva in our attempts to sign Hull left back Andrew Robertson, a player who is now at Liverpool.

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We’d lost at Arsenal in the previous game due to a late penalty that left a sour taste and Sean Dyche had to make a change for this game with Dean Marney ruled out with the injury he’d sustained at the Emirates. In came recent signing Joey Barton for his first league start while both Scott Arfield and Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson took their places on the bench to replace Marney and Michael Kightly who was joining Burton on loan.

We did start quietly, but overall we were by far the better side and despite the hint (well, more than a hint) of handball on the goal, the win was fully deserved with Barton and Jeff Hendrick running the show in the midfield after Steven Defour had been forced off with an injury.

We went up to ninth in the table with 29 points from 23 games. At the time I didn’t think it could get any better.

The teams were;

Burnley: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, Michael Keane, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, George Boyd, Jeff Hendrick (James Tarkowski 89), Joey Barton, Steven Defour (Scott Arfield 34), Ashley Barnes (Sam Vokes 79), Andre Gray. Subs not used: Paul Robinson, Jon Flanagan, Tendayi Darikwa, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson.

Leicester: Kasper Schmeichel, Danny Simpson, Wes Morgan, Robert Huth, Christian Fuchs, Marc Albrighton (Shinji Okazaki 77), Danny Drinkwater, Wilfred Ndidi, Demarai Gray (Ahmed Musa 67), Riyad Mahrez, Jamie Vardy. Subs not used: Ron-Robert Zieler, Ben Chilwell, Andy King, Nampalys Mendy, Yohan Benalouane.

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