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1516 burnley turf moor 04We reached the 4th round of the FA Cup last season, going out against Arsenal at the Emirates and here we are again facing Bristol City having beaten Sunderland in the 3rd round.

The last time Turf Moor staged a 4th round game was in 2011. It was Eddie Howe’s first home game in charge, we paraded new signing Charlie Austin on the pitch, and we beat Burton Albion 3-1 with two goals from Chris Eagles and a late third coming from Martin Paterson in stoppage time. No one who played in that game will be involved tomorrow, the only player remaining at the club is Dean Marney and he, sadly, has been ruled out of action for the rest of this season and beyond.

It’s usually at this point in a cup preview that I look back at previous ties against our opponents. That’s a bit difficult with Bristol City given that this is the first time we’ve played them in any cup competition.

A win tomorrow would take us into the 5th round for the first time since 2011 and that is one of only two occasions we’ve reached that stage of the cup since the Blackburn tie in 2005.

Arsenal and then West Ham, in 2009 and 2011, were the teams to beat us. One player to play in both those games is Wade Elliott who, of course, ended his playing career with Bristol City and then had a season as development squad coach.

A Boxing Day visitor to Turf Moor for the win against Middlesbrough and today he spoke about the tie. “It’s two clubs that I have really good ties with and had success with,” he said. “Both are close to me, but to be honest I think Bristol City at the minute have bigger things to focus on.

“As for Burnley, you would have fancy them to have a decent cup run. You can imagine them going anywhere and getting a result, and if they get anyone at home they fancy themselves. I know what the atmosphere there is like when it gets going, so I do fancy them to go well this season and it would be brilliant of they did.

“I feel they are secure enough in the league that they can invest a bit of focus and energy into the cup and the town would take off if they went a long way.”

Elliott was in the first Burnley team to win promotion to the Premier League and he enjoyed his recent visit alongside his captain Steven Caldwell. He added: “Steve and I were sat there and even to think that our squad played a small part in laying some foundations was very warming. We were both buzzing to see the club in such strong health.”

If Wade was at the Turf tomorrow, the likelihood is that he would see a different looking starting line up to the one that played on Boxing Day. Sean Dyche has made changes in the two previous games in this competition and has suggested that he’ll do likewise tomorrow.

It’s a big game for Dyche who will be coming up against one of his former clubs. He had two years there that were not successful on a personal level but he believes they have helped him become a better manager.

He said: “Unfortunately it didn’t work out for me there. It worked out for the team; I joined in the first season as they got promoted, but I had a back injury and it just didn’t work out for me as a player, it sometimes happens.

“I’ve always said I learned more from my two years there of it not going right than I did from the rest of my career. It was invaluable to understand more about myself, the game, players, fans and dealing with everything, and that has been massively helpful for me when I became a manager.”

Regarding his team selection, I expect Nick Pope to play in goal and it is likely that all of Tendayi Darikwa, James Tarkowski and Jon Flanagan will play in the defence. Further forward, that’s complicated with the injuries to Scott Arfield and Dean Marney. Arfield is still struggling for fitness and Marney is now ruled out long term.

The team could be: Nick Pope, Tendayi Darikwa, Michael Keane, James Tarkowski, Jon Flanagan, Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Jeff Hendrick, Joey Barton, Steven Defour, Michael Kightly, Sam Vokes.

In their first match in December, Bristol City beat Ipswich 2-0 at home. Lee Tomlin opened the scoring with Luke Freeman scoring the second. They had dropped a little in the table after a good start but they were still in 11th place and just four points behind the top six.

It’s been something of a disaster since. They’ve played a further eight league games, all of which have been lost, and are now hanging perilously just two points above the drop zone. Their only success has come in the FA Cup when, in the 3rd round, they won 1-0 in a replay at Fleetwood after a 0-0 draw at Ashton Gate with former Walsall and Nottingham Forest wide man Jamie Paterson scoring the goal.

There’s no doubt that the league has become far more important to them with a daunting fixture list that sees them face Sheffield Wednesday, Derby, Leeds, Fulham, Newcastle and Aston Villa in five of their next six games.

Manager Lee Johnson is hoping the lack of pressure in the league will help them tomorrow and he may well bring Tomlin back into the side. He’s been left out recently with the big signing from Bournemouth admitting: “I keep getting little niggly injuries and I don’t think I’ve been 100 per cent since the first couple of months of the season. It’s stopped me from being sharp so I’m not happy with that.”

Although back in the running for a place, he’s been restricted this week having been struck down with illness so it is a waiting game for him. One player expected to play is Zak Vyner who has just returned from a loan with Accrington.

City will be without Adam Matthews and Mark Little who have both been ruled out with injuries and they are joined by Korey Smith and Gary O’Neil.

One player to watch is striker Tammy Abraham who is on loan from Chelsea. The 19-year-old has already netted 18 goals in 33 league and cup games.

Last time out at Forest, they lined up: Fabian Giefer, Bailey Wright, Aden Flint, Hordur Magnusson, Mark Little, Gary O’Neil, Jens Hegeler, Joe Bryan, Jamie Paterson, Milan Djuric, Tammy Abraham. Subs: Frank Fielding, Scott Golbourne, Marlon Pack, Aaron Wilbraham, Callum O’Dowda, Josh Brownhill, Lee Tomlin.

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