Friday, 2 October 2009

Burnley v Birmingham match preview

Burnley manager Owen Coyle has lots of decisions to make regarding his team selection as he hunts a tenth straight win at Turf Moor.

Captain Steven Caldwell is available for the first time this season, and Andre Bikey or Clarke Carlisle could make way to make room for the skipper. Another option for Coyle is to move Bikey into midfield, although he has previously stated that he will use Bikey in defence only.

Chris McCann is sure to be a big losee for the Clarets, and more bad injury news has come this week with Jay Rodriguez and Fernando Guerrero both picking up injuries in Wednesday night's reserve win against Hull. Steven Thompson scored two goals in that game but he will have to be content with a place on the bench.

Coyle is known to like a settled eleven and he may name the same team that were thrashed at Spurs, although the pressure is on to make changes to a midfield that has struggled. However, Kevin McDonald is thought to be struggling with a knee problem, and he may miss out.

Up front David Nugent is likely to keep his place, and Steven Fletcher may start alongside him rather than off the flank.

Birmingham are without their record signing Christian Benitez, as the striker has returned to his Ecuador homeland after his father was involved in a car accident. Marcus Bent and David Murphy are doubts, and James McFadden is expected to join Martin Taylor and Cameron Jerome on the sidelines. Stuart Parnaby and Franck Queudrue could be on line for recalls to the starting eleven.

Up front, Birmingham manager Alex McLeish will choose between Kevin Phillips, Garry O'Connor and Gary McSheffrey for his striking line-up, although he could well match Burnley's expected formation of 4-5-1. Sebastian Larsson will be a threat from set pieces on the left, and experienced men Lee Bowyer, Teemu Tainio and Barry Ferguson will make up the midfield.

Summer signings Scott Dann and Roger Johnson have forget a tight partnership at the heart of the Birmingham back line, the pair presiding over one of the meanest defences in the top flight so far this season. On loan goalkeeper Joe Hart will start in goal, with Gregory Vignal and Stephen Carr expected to keep their places at full back.

Both sides will look at the match as a good chance to pick up a crucial win, but Burnley's 100% home record this season makes them favourites to collect the points, despite the injury woes of the last fortnight. It's likely to be a tight game, and an early goal for either side could be enough.

Prediction: Burnley 1-0 Birmingham.

This article was written for FansOnline Burnley.

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