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After a 3-2 win at Fulham on Tuesday, Burnley complete a week away from home with the shorter trip to the John Smith’s Stadium tomorrow to face Huddersfield Town.

It is one of the shortest trips of the season, excluding our local derbies at Blackburn, Bolton and Preston, but it hasn’t been a happy trip on the last two occasions we played there. Our first two visits to this particular ground ended in 1-0 wins; Andy Payton scored in a 1-0 league win in 2000 and two years later Dimi Papadopoulos netted an extra time goal in the League Cup.

But, a dreadful performance in August 2012 saw us beaten 2-0 and we lost 2-1 in the following season after certainly a poor first half performance followed by a refereeing shocker after the break.

The win at Fulham came on a night when Rotherham were beating Middlesbrough which has now left us in a position where those clubs with games in hand, at this time, cannot catch us. It’s left people trying to work out how many wins or points we might need but, with ten games to go, that’s just about impossible right now. The only thing we know with any certainty is that we’ll be champions if we win the lot.

Michael Keane is back from 1996 and expecting a tough game
Michael Keane is back from 1996 and expecting a tough game

It’s been a strange week and a half in that we haven’t played anything like as well as we can but I suppose facing weaker opposition such as Bolton, Blackburn and Fulham has helped. Having said that, I thought we looked much more like ourselves in the second half at Craven Cottage, even coping with their battering ram style in the last quarter of an hour or so.

Tomorrow it is Huddersfield and again Michael Keane was speaking at the media call. He’s been back in the side for the last two games after suffering from concussion in the Rotherham game, leading to him missing the wins against Nottingham Forest and Bolton.

Apparently he thought it was June 1996 but said: “I’m back to normal now,” even though he took another blow to the head last Saturday.

He said: “It was a good night for us on Tuesday but we won’t get carried away. There is a long way to go, we need to take one game at a time and get as many wins as possible. Hopefully that is enough to get us over the line.

“I think it will be quite important that we’ve got players who’ve been there and done it. Sometimes you see teams crumble but we’ve got a lot of experience here.

Looking forward to tomorrow, Keane added: “Huddersfield will be a tough game as they’ve had a few wins recently so they’ll be confident. Away games in this league are always tough but we’re in a great run and I’m sure if we keep playing like we have been, we’ll have a good chance.”

Burnley have been boosted by the return to fitness of David Jones. He was substituted in the Blackburn game and that forced him to miss the win at Fulham with an achilles injury. Fredrik Ulvestad started with Dean Marney coming on just before the hour, but I thought we missed Jones and it is good news to have him available again.

If he comes back in, we should line up: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, Michael Keane, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, George Boyd, Joey Barton, David Jones, Scott Arfield, Sam Vokes, Andre Gray. Subs from: Paul Robinson, Tendayi Darikwa, James Tarkowski, Fredrik Ulvestad, Dean Marney, Matt Taylor, Michael Kightly, Lloyd Dyer, Rouwen Hennings.

Huddersfield are currently in 18th place in the Championship but have a healthy seven point advantage over Rotherham and I don’t expect them to be in any relegation danger. It’s their fourth season back since winning promotion in a Wembley play-off shoot out against Sheffield United.

It’s been much of a muchness with finishes in 19th, 15th and 16th place in the previous three seasons. It’s a period that has seen them change manager three times. Simon Grayson was in charge when they won promotion but he left as did both Mark Robins and Chris Powell who was replaced in November by David Wagner who arrived from Borussia Dortmund.

Wagner is a German-American, although German born, who was in charge of the second team in Dortmund. He looked set to join Jürgen Klopp at Liverpool but when the Huddersfield job was offered he arrived in Yorkshire along with his assistant Christoph Bühler.

They’ve had mixed fortunes recently but they did win last time out, beating Reading 3-1 on Tuesday night with goals from Nahki Wells, Jamie Paterson and Flo Bojaj. Wells is their leading goalscorer in the Championship having scored 14 times, a total currently behind only Andre Gray, Ross McCormack and Abel Hernandez.

Wagner could be boosted when he names his side. Philip Billing is available again after serving a three match ban and there could be good news for him with returns for Joel Lynch, Emyr Huws, Karim Matmour and Joe Murphy who have all been out with injuries and illness. Elvis Manu is also available for selection after being left out on Tuesday for internal disciplinary reasons.

There could also be one further boost. They will now be able to include Rajiv van La Parra who has today signed a loan deal from Wolves with a view to it being made permanent in the summer. The Dutch midfielder, who has also played for Brighton this season, has been left out of the last three Wolves game after being targeted by his own fans in a recent defeat against Brentford.

It’s difficult to determine what their team will be but the players named above could be added to the team that beat Reading which was: Jed Steer, James Husband , Martin Cranie, Mark Hudson, Tommy Smith, Kyle Dempsey, Dean Whitehead, Joe Lolley, Jamie Paterson, Harry Bunn, Nahki Wells. Subs: Lloyd Allinson, Jason Davidson, Duane Holmes, Regan Booty, Sean Scannell, Ishmael Miller, Flo Bojaj.




Burnley’s last visit to Huddersfield proved to be a disastrous occasion. We suffered a 2-1 defeat and lost the leadership of the Championship. The defeat came after a poor first half performance, in which, somehow, we remained level, and an even worse second half performance from the match officials.

It was, certainly in the first half at least, our worst performance of the season, but the fact is we might have even won the game but for the incompetence of referee Eddie Ilderton who was aided and abetted by his equally poor assistants.

Michael Duff sent off by referee Eddie Ilderton
Michael Duff sent off by referee Eddie Ilderton

With Dean Marney still out of the side through injury we played David Edgar in the midfield and that, I’m afraid, was a major factor in the performance. He was dreadful, to the extent that he was pulled off at half time and replaced by Brian Stock who had fallen behind him in the central midfield queue. Michael Kightly, another who was poor, wasn’t seen beyond half time either, Junior Stanislas replacing him.

Somehow we got to the break at 0-0 but then the officials stepped in with some breathtaking errors. We conceded two goals at the far end of the ground and even from my vantage point I could see they were awful decisions that led to the goals.

The first came from Oliver Norwood following a left wing corner that was clearly a goal kick and then Michael Duff was pulled up for handball in the box with James Vaughan scoring from the spot. The penalty was flagged by the assistant with Ilderton pointing to the spot. I’d have had no problem with it had Duff handled the ball inside the box, but he didn’t handle it and he wasn’t in the box.

We fought back. Sam Vokes had a goal ruled out for offside. Guess what? It was onside but eventually Danny Ings did pull one back for us.

Pushing for an equaliser, we got caught. Duff, who had been shown a yellow card for discussing the earlier penalty incident, got himself a second, and justified, yellow card and was dismissed.

We probably, over the whole game, couldn’t have too much complaint at the result, but it was so influenced by the appalling Ilderton and his equally appalling assistants.

The teams were;

Huddersfield: Alex Smithies, Joel Lynch, Anthony Gerrard, Tommy Smith, Adam Hammill (Calum Woods 87), Oliver Norwood, Jonathan Hogg, Adam Clayton, Paul Dixon, Martin Paterson (Danny Ward 74), James Vaughan. Subs not used: Ian Bennett, Murray Wallace, Oscar Gobern, Sean Scannell, Duane Holmes.

Burnley: Tom Heaton, Kieran Trippier, Michael Duff, Jason Shackell, Ben Mee, Scott Arfield (Keith Treacy 88), David Edgar (Brian Stock ht), David Jones, Michael Kightly (Junior Stanislas ht), Danny Ings, Sam Vokes. Subs not used: Alex Cisak, Kevin Long, Danny Lafferty, Steven Hewitt.

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