Date: 4th April 2014 at 5:29pm
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Vital Burnley Editor Phil Lea AKA turfmanphil answers a few questions about Burnley’s season as a whole, as well as their chances on Saturday

We speak to Phil Lea AKA turfmanphil, Editor of Vital Burnley, ahead of tomorrow’s match between the Hornets and the Clarets.

It’s fair to say Burnley have had an absolutely fantastic season so far. Was there any indication that this would be a special year last summer?

There is only one word to describe our season – incredible! This is not supposed to be happening, we have a small squad, £8 million debt and at the start of the season we lost Charlie Austin with no new strikers being brought in! Our success has to be mainly down to the amazing leadership from Sean Dyche, our ‘Ginger Mourinho’ galvanising such a small squad into beleiving they can do it!

The Burnley players should of course probably take most of the credit for your league position, but what do you think Sean Dyche has brought to Burnley? At Watford most fans believe he did well with what was a small club with a small budget, but he never came close to reaching the heights you have this season. Is it a matter of Dyche growing or are the group of players you have this year just a cut above the rest?

Refer to the comments above, but this guy certainly has something! Vokes and Ings simply replaced Austin, and Trippier is a class act, but the whole team has gelled and produced the goods in amazing style this season which must surely be down to the management skills of Dyche who has spent little on new players. Sometimes a smaller squad if you can keep them playing and avoid too many injuries etc. can produce the goods more than a big squad, and so it has proved this season so far.

You were unbeaten in 16 prior to last week’s defeat at home to table-toppers Leicester; were Leicester simply the better team? Was losing Vokes the key factor in the result?

Our team revolves around four key players and at the moment all of them our out injured or suspended!

We were already going to potentially struggle against Leicester without the injured Ings and Trippier and the suspended Marney, but to lose Vokes so early on was a bitter, cruel blow that gave Dyche no option but to revert to 4-5-1, a tactic which was never going to work. Ashley Barnes is not a target man.

Leicester have played better and a full strength Burnley side might have got something from the game but we didn’t stand a chance after losing Vokes.

The perils of a small squad are now haunting the club after being lucky all season with no key injuries or suspensions until recently.

Your main offensive outlets in Ings and Vokes are set to miss this match through injury, with Kieran Trippier also likely to remain out due to his hamstring injury; are their replacements in Burnley’s small squad capable of keeping up the momentum you have on Saturday and in the final few games of the season?

The loss of Vokes (out for the season now) with Ings also sidelined is a massive blow and with no striker cover it has forced a change in tactics from 4-4-2 to 4-5-1. We are exposed and will find it difficult to score now.

Baird is playing well at right back but he is no Trippier! We also have Marney out suspended for the Watford game so that’s four key players missing. Ings and Trippier are expected back soon after though so hopefully the nine point cushion will be enough to keep our automatic promotion hopes alive.

I assume your biggest threat will come from the wings – Kightly’s power and directness when he was at Watford with Dyche are still fairly fresh in my mind. Given that we usually play with wingbacks, do you think overloading the wide areas is something you will look to benefit from?

I suspect Arfield, normally out wide will play centre midfield in place of Marney again but Stanislas is also a doubt (hamstring). The wingers could be Wallace and Kightly. Kightly can be good but has not set the world alight yet and Wallace has just come back from injury (Treacy waiting in the wings is also a possibility).

Wing play in 4-5-1 will have to be key and be effective! We are almost looking at the wingers for goals at the moment.

Who could make the difference and who should we watch out for on Saturday?

Our defence will be tested on Saturday and Jason Shackell, our skipper, could be key in rallying the troops under such pressure with so many key players out. Goals could be a problem so we might have to dig in for a draw.

Finally, what’s your match prediction?

At full strength I would have predicted a Clarets win but with so many players out, I will be hoping for a point.


Thanks Phil!