Burnley will welcome Andre Bikey straight into the side for his debut, and the club’s home Premier League debut, against league Champions, European Cup runners-up, and World Club Cup winners Manchester United.
Bikey hasn’t played competitively since he was sent off at Turf Moor in the first leg of the play-off semi-final for Reading, but he will be available after serving the last of a five-game ban tonight. But needs must for the Clarets at the back and with Steven Caldwell and Michael Duff still injured, Bikey is likely to be preferred to fellow new boy David Edgar at the heart of the Clarets defence alongside Clarke Carlisle.
Burnley have no fresh injury worries with Martin Paterson suffering no reaction after the defeat at Stoke to the hamstring problem he suffered in pre-season.
Clarets boss Owen Coyle must decide whether to play Christian Kalvenes or Stephen Jordan at left-back, and he may also choose to shuffle his attacking options with former Manchester United winger Chris Eagles the likeliest to come in, possibly at the expense of Paterson or Robbie Blake. Fellow former Red Devil Richard Eckerlsley is less likely to play after Tyrone Mears made a solid debut at the Britannia Stadium.
Manchester United have a defensive injury crisis with Edwin van der Sar, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Jonny Evans and Gary Neville all missing. That leaves Patrice Evra as the only regular member of the unit, and he will be joined by Wes Brown and John O’Shea with one of the da Silva twins at right-back.
Sir Alex Ferguson will also be without winger Nani, who suffered a reaction at the weekend to the shoulder injury he picked up in the Community Shield defeat to Chelsea. Ryan Giggs may come in to partner fellow veteran United stalwart Paul Scholes in the midfield, with Darren Fletcher and Ji Sung Park likely to be picked for their industry.
In attack, Wayne Rooney is the man Burnley must stop. The England striker has a huge season ahead of him with a World Cup at the end of it and started the campaign with the winner against Birmingham on Sunday. He’ll be partnered by Dimitar Berbatov, who must improve on last season’s disappointing effort, and surprise signing Michael Owen will be utilised from the bench.
On paper it looks a mammoth task for the Clarets with United’s strength in depth likely to still give them too much. But with 20,000 locals making it a night to remember, Burnley might just come up with a performance to match the occasion in the return to top flight football at Turf Moor.
Chris Eagles has lots to prove after United sold him when he was on the brink of breaking into the first team, and plenty of Burnley players are aware that increased squad numbers mean their place is under threat for the first time in their Clarets careers.Prediction: 2-2
This article was written for FansOnline.