Burnley Preview - Away, August 6
It`s day one of the new n.Power Championship season and hopes are high across the country as all the planning and preparation come to a head as supporters up and down the country get their first proper glimpses of the summer`s work.
For Watford the season begins at Turf Moor, Burnley; Sean Dyche`s first real test as manager of the Goldenboys after a tumultuous summer that started badly with the loss of Malky Mackay and key players, ending with a strengthened squad and a sense of positivity.
Up in Lancashire, it`s arguably a different case for the Claret`s who enter their first full campaign under ex-Bournemouth boss, Eddie Howe.
Having taken over from the departing Brian Laws last January, Howe has taken stock of his squad and adjusted accordingly ahead of the new campaign yet the number of players in the 'in` column are outweighed by those in the 'out` one.
The double loss of right-back Tyrone Mears and talismanic forward Chris Eagles to Bolton Wanderers is a huge blow for Howe, and even the £3m received for the duo`s services won`t full compensate for the loss of two of his best players.
Returning from long-term injuries suffered last season though are strikers Martin Paterson and Charlie Austin, a frightening pair for much of the Championship`s backlines, raring to get back to what they know best - goal-scoring.
Summer additions Ben Mee and Kieran Trippier, both on loan from Manchester City, highlight the Claret`s defensive problems and furthermore Howe`s new policy aimed at reducing the average age of his squad.
The late capture of Irish winger Keith Treacy from rivals PNE seems a direct replacement for the departed Eagles, and the tricky former Blackburn man adds width and trickery.
Moving Chris Iwelumo onto the Hornets and Clarke Carlisle on-loan to rivals Preston clearly part of that age-reducing scheme.
With regards to Iwelumo, the big Scot is expected to be fit to face his former club having picked up a hamstring niggle in the defeat by Wimbledon during pre-season. If the 33 year-old doesn`t make it then Troy Deeney should be the man to partner Marvin Sordell up front.
Other than that it looks like a fairly straight choice for Dyche, with a contest between new-boy Prince Buaben and Ross Jenkins likely to be the only head-scratcher for the new gaffer.
Burnley: Grant; Trippier, Bikey, Mee, Fox; Elliott, Marney, McCann (c), Wallace; Rodriguez and Austin.
Watford: Loach; Doyley, Mariappa, Taylor, Dickinson; Eustace (c); Yeates, Buaben, Forsyth; Iwelumo and Sordell.
Match Officials: Mr M Brown (R), Mr P Bankes & Mr J Hunt (AR`s) and Mr M Bristow (FO).