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1516 burnley turf moor 02 1000Burnley’s home games this season so far have all been played in daylight, but tomorrow night it’s Newcastle United at home under the lights for Sky’s Monday game.

I’ve always liked midweek games and that is one thing I miss in this league with so few midweek fixtures, not as though I’m complaining or wanting a return to the Football League. Having said that, I’d much rather have seen the game played on Saturday afternoon but we know games will be moved for television at some time or other and it’s not the first time we’ve been moved to a Monday.

It’s a return to the Turf after suffering our first away defeat of the season last week at Manchester City in what proved to be our biggest defeat in 11 months since we received our annual hammering at West Brom.

But no matter what happens in this game, we won’t come up against a side as good as Manchester City and we did a lot better than a number of other clubs have done in keeping the score to 1-0 until there were less than twenty minutes to go.

Stephen Ward suffered a broken ankle on the last occasion Newcastle visited Burnley and didn’t start another league game for us in over a year, but since regaining his place after the Boxing Day 2015 defeat at Hull he’s only missed one game, that last season’s home win against Crystal Palace a week ago next week.

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Ahead of this game, Ward, asked about Newcastle, said: “Any team that gets promoted is expected to be down at the lower end of the table. It happened with us last year and it happens with most teams that come up. They are proving people wrong at the minute and we know it’s going to be a tough game.”

He added: “Coming back to Turf Moor it’s important we put on a performance and hopefully put some points on the board. We’ve been a bit disappointed with a couple of the games, but one of the gaffer’s mantras when we speak after the game is that sometimes if you can’t win, it’s important not to lose.”

Ward has competition for that left-back spot now from Charlie Taylor, but such has been his consistency that the summer signing from Leeds hasn’t had a look in other than in the League Cup ties and Ward will be in the starting line up tomorrow.

We will, almost certainly, have to make one change from the team that started at the Etihad. Chris Wood went off early in that game with a tight hamstring. Sean Dyche revealed on Thursday that he was touch and go for this game and I don’t expect him to play.

That would normally open the door for Sam Vokes but he missed last Saturday but if fit I expect him to be start ahead of Ashley Barnes. The other question that needs an answer is whether Nahki Wells, who has now featured in three under-23 games, is considered fit enough to join the squad. We’ll know the answer to that one, I expect, when the team is announced for the under-23 game at Crewe.

I think we could line up: Nick Pope, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, Robbie Brady, Steven Defour, Jack Cork, Scott Arfield, Jeff Hendrick, Sam Vokes. Subs from: Anders Lindegaard, Phil Bardsley, Kevin Long, Charlie Taylor, Ashley Westwood, Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Ashley Barnes, Nahki Wells.

Newcastle, for the second time in seven years, have won promotion back to the Premier League at the first time of asking. You have to wonder just how a club that size ever finds itself being relegated in the first place but recent years has seen it become more of a sit-com than a professionally run Premier League club.

Stability may well be on the way. The fans finally have, in Rafa Benitez, a manager they are happy with and I’m sure they are delighted with recent news that Mike Ashley is selling the club, although they have heard that one before.

They finally won the title last season with 94 points, one point more than we had in the previous season, although they lost twice as many games as we did. Things didn’t start as well as they might have wanted to this season with an opening day defeat at the hands of Spurs followed by a loss at Huddersfield.

But since, it’s almost been all plain sailing with four wins and two draws in the last seven games, the only defeat coming at Brighton.

Like us, they’ve found goals hard to come by with just ten and their joint leading goalscorers are Joselu and Jamaal Lascelles, both of whom have scored twice. They led twice in their last away game at Southampton but had to settle for a point in a 2-2 draw, but the other three away games have all ended 1-0, those defeats at the homes of the two other promoted clubs Huddersfield and Brighton, and a 1-0 win at Swansea.

They beat bottom of the league Crystal Palace last time out, a late goal giving them a 1-0 win at St. James’ Park.

Benitez has an almost fully fit squad to select from with Dwight Gayle returning after injury. The only player ruled out is Paul Dummett, the full back who scored an own goal in our 3-3 draw at Newcastle on our last visit.

One Newcastle website is suggesting their line up could be: Rob Elliot, DeAndre Yedlin, Jamaal Lascelles, Florian Lejeune, Ciaran Clark, Mikel Merino, Isaac Hayden, Matt Ritchie, Ayoze Perez, Christian Atsu, Joselu. Subs from: Karl Darlow, Javi Manquillo, Jonjo Shelvey, Jesus Gamez, Jacob Murphy, Mohamed Diame, Aleksandar Mitrovic, Dwight Gayle.

 

LAST TIME THEY WERE HERE

 

Having failed to win any of our ten opening games in the 2014/15 season, we went into this game on the back of a run of three unbeaten games having followed up the wins against Hull at home and Stoke away with a home draw against Aston Villa.

The game got off to a quiet start but once it sprung into life it was Burnley who were the better side. We spurned a couple of chances with Danny Ings seeing his effort punched away by Rob Elliot while Dean Marney blazed over.

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But we got the goal we deserved some 11 minutes before half time. Michael Keane played the ball out to the right for Kieran Trippier who spotted Ings making a run. He found him with a long pass which the striker met with a cushioned header just outside the box. It dropped nicely for George Boyd who hit home his second goal for the club.

It should have been two right on half time, but David Jones failed to score with a reasonably easy chance and we paid for it. A changed visiting team, with two substitutions, were level within three minutes of the restart when a cross from the right was met by Papiss Cisse just outside the six yard box and he had far too much space to turn and fire home.

For a while they were the better side, but we fought our way back into the contest, despite losing Stephen Ward with a broken ankle, but long before the end it had petered out with the 1-1 scoreline looking inevitable. It was four games without defeat, a Premier League record for us that was only recently beaten, and it lifted us out of the bottom three.

The teams were;

Burnley: Tom Heaton, Kieran Trippier, Michael Keane, Jason Shackell, Stephen Ward (Ben Mee 65), George Boyd, Dean Marney, David Jones, Scott Arfield, Danny Ings, Ashley Barnes (Lukas Jutkiewicz 85). Subs not used: Matt Gilks, Kevin Long, Ross Wallace, Michael Kightly, Marvin Sordell.

Newcastle: Rob Elliot, Darryl Janmaat, Mike Williamson (Steven Taylor ht), Paul Dummett, Massadio Haidara, Yoan Gouffran, Mehdi Abeid, Ayoze Perez (Remy Cabella ht), Cheik Tiote, Sammy Ameobi (Riviere 75), Papiss Cisse. Subs not used: Jak Alnwick, Vurnon Anita, Adam Armstrong, Remie Streete.

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