A third straight win could keep our season alive, writes Jamie Smith.
Typical Burnley. A barren spell, coinciding with the sad death of Eddie Howe’s mother, all but ended our season. And once the play-offs seemed out of sight, we started winning again. Perhaps the pressure is off, perhaps the players are enjoying their football a bit more, maybe it’s the Danny Ings and Charlie Austin partnership. Who knows. But it’s working.
Burnley are back in the top half. And whisper it quietly, but the play-offs aren’t out of reach. Four wins would give us 71 points, which might be enough if other teams slip up. Obviously, it’s unlikely we end the season with a run of seven wins in eight, but it’s not unheard of.
Jay Rodriguez and Martin Paterson might not play again this season, but the form of Ings and Austin is a hugely positive sign. Ings has two Clarets goals already and Austin is in the groove, following up his debut Burnley hat-trick at Portsmouth with two winners over the Easter weekend, at home to Brighton and at Doncaster Rovers from the spot. Suddenly, he looks like the main man, the player we can build around next season if Rodriguez is sold. Whatever we paid for him, it was an absolute steal.
Ross Wallace may be forced to continue at left-back as Ben Mee is ruled out with a fracture in his back, while Danny Lafferty played for the reserves in midweek. Elsewhere, the team effectively picks itself, with youngsters such as Steven Hewitt, Shay McCartan and Cameron Howieson all expected to be involved once more. The only team selections Howe is likely to be mulling over is Junior Stanislas or Josh McQuoid, Dean Marney or Marvin Bartley. Bartley missed the win at Donny but is available.
Coventry City come to Turf Moor fighting for points. They’re four points adrift of Bristol City in 22nd spot and defeat at Turf Moor would leave them with a lot to do. But make no bones about it, they are a very poor side, despite Andy Thorn masterminding a recent upturn in form. Lukas Jutkiewicz was sold to Middlesbrough in the transfer window and with that deal, their hopes of another year in the Championship faded badly.
Burnley lad Olly Norwood will be in the City midfield tomorrow, hoping to impress against the team he grew up supporting. He recently scored in back-to-back games, but the main goal threat is likely to be journeyman striker-cum-winger Gary McSheffrey, a player with quality who has struggled throughout his career for consistency.
Alex Nimely, Cody McDonald and Clive Platt are all fit and available for Thorn to pick up front as well, although Richard Keogh and Chris Hussey may not make it after a return to training this week.
City have only won once away all season, although that victory came last month at Hull, and they have picked up five draws, the majority of which have come recently. Still, that paltry haul of eight points is one of the main reasons they look destined for the drop.
They have scored only 12 times away from the Ricoh Stadium this season – it’s fair to say goals have been hard to come by for the Bluebirds this term.
The Clarets should win tomorrow. Coventry City are a desperately poor side and really should go down. But our home form has been a disappointment all season and it would be no surprise to see more points dropped.
However, I’m positive the form of Ings and Austin can see us outscore the Bluebirds.
Prediction: Burnley 3-1 Coventry City.