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fleetwood 1000x500This week, as pre-season continues, Burnley will come up against two teams managed by Scousers who are very familiar to our supporters. In four days time we will be playing Paul Cook’s Wigan Athletic but tonight it is Fleetwood Town and that means a reunion for Sean Dyche with their boss Joey Barton.

Joey is about to kick off his second season in charge of Fleetwood having retired from playing following his suspension and I’m sure he’ll be looking forward to tonight’s game as much as anyone.

There were mixed thoughts among our supporters when he first pitched up at Turf Moor but he won over just about everyone in two spells with the club, the second of which abruptly came to an end with his suspension.

I still believe he was the real catalyst for the promotion in the 2015/16 season. He continued to say he hadn’t come to Burnley to finish second, even at a time when we were looking very much like play-off candidates. He always gave the impression that he enjoyed his time with us and ahead of tonight’s game he said just that.

“Being with Burnley was one of my very best experiences and, probably, the favourite part of my playing career. I met a group of people on and off the pitch and I absolutely loved every minute.”

He played against us between those two spells when he lined up for a pre-season friendly with Rangers, but tonight he will be on the touchline, sparring with omelette maker Dyche while, disappointingly for us, there are not likely to be any other former Burnley players on the pitch.

Ross Wallace, to date, hasn’t resigned while Dean Marney, who I am certain the Burnley fans would have loved to see, hasn’t reported back for pre-season. Barton said: “I have not seen Dean Marney. He has been away from the club, he has some personal issues that he is resolving at this moment.

“For us, family is the most important thing and I don’t think you can play good football if the personal side is not where it needs to be. Dean is working hard on that and we have got to support him as much as we can to find that process.”

It’s a fourth game tonight for Fleetwood. They have already played Millwall, Port Vale and Carlisle, losing the first two 1-0 before winning 3-1 at Carlisle, as Barton formulates his plans for the new season which has seen him bring in six new players, the most recent seeing the return of Harry Souttar on loan from Stoke.

Tonight, Sean Dyche will have all his squad in one place after Saturday’s split at Crewe and Port Vale. We are still likely to be without both Ben Mee and Charlie Taylor although both are nursing knocks. Steven Defour, who hasn’t featured since the FA Cup defeat at Manchester City in January, remains unavailable.

Dyche explained his selection will be determined by who needs the game time. He said: “We will look at the week and see who needs topping up a bit more and the ones who need a bit less; players who need more minutes. That’s what we’ll do in the next two games, definitely the next two and possibly the third one after that.

“Usually by the last game you’re looking at roughly what you think, apart from the odd knock or reason someone can’t play, but until then we’re still in that pre-season mode and open minded about who’s delivering and who’s on it.”

Tonight won’t be the first time we’ve travelled to Fleetwood for a pre-season friendly. We were there on 28th July four years ago. That was when another ex-Claret, Graham Alexander, was in charge at Highbury on a night when we won 2-0 with Stephen Ward scoring the first and Marvin Sordell netting a penalty.

Stephen Jordan, another former Burnley player, was in the Fleetwood team that night when we lined up: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton (Cameron Dummigan ht), Michael Keane, Ben Mee (Tom Anderson 84), Stephen Ward, George Boyd (Fredrik Ulvestad 60), Scott Arfield (Danny Lafferty 74), Matt Taylor (Brad Jackson 81), Michael Kightly, Jelle Vossen (Sam Vokes ht), Marvin Sordell (Lukas Jutkiewicz 60). Sub not used: Michael Duff.

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