Writer: Tom Bodell
Date:Friday March 2 2012
WATFORD PLAY host to a similarly inconsistent side at Vicarage Road this Saturday as Eddie Howe`s Burnley visit WD18.
The Clarets are certainly better off in the league standings though, and sit in 11th spot with just six points separating them and the Play-Offs.
Howe, 34, has been in charge at Turf Moor for just over 13 months now having taken charge in late January 2011. The former Portsmouth and Bournemouth defender has wasted no time in implementing his own policies on the club and has quickly shed the excess years at Turf Moor.
Stalwarts such as Clarke Carlisle, Leon Cort, Graham Alexander, Wade Elliott and Watford`s own Chris Iwelumo were quickly moved on to make room for the fresh new breed of Clarets that Howe has planted his faith in.
The Amersham-born gaffer has been quick to raid his former club as well as bringing assistant Jason Tindall he has returned from striker Danny Ings, midfielder Marvin Bartley and goalkeeper Jon Stewart. Ings however suffered serious knee ligament damage early on in his Clarets career and is only recently back in the squad following recovery.
Further youthful additions were sought from Manchester City with Kieran Trippier (initially on-loan) and Ben Mee both penning season-long loan deal with the Lancashire outfit. Two West Ham prodigy`s signed up to the Howe revolution as well in Zavon Hines and Junior Stanislas.
Tripper, 21, has impressed hugely since his switch from Eastlands and having played 25 times in the league on loan he made the move permanent in January for an undisclosed fee.
A boisterous but defensively aware right-back, Tripper spent time on loan in the Championship with Barnsley last season and has England U18, U19, U20 & U21 honours to his name as well.
Mee, 22, a left-sided full-back or centre-half is also enjoying his time at Turf Moor as a regular, making 25 league starts and a further appearance as a substitute. Like his team-mate, Mee was also on-loan in the second-tier last season, linking up with Sven Goran Eriksson`s Leicester City for 15 games.
Pragmatism is one of Howe`s key traits and with Mee potentially returning to Eastlands this summer he has already moved to plug a gap at left-back with the January capture of Derry City`s Daniel Lafferty, 22.
The former Celtic trainee is yet to make his Claret`s bow but after just three seasons of relatively first-team football, the Derry-born defender had clearly done enough to persuade Howe.
Despite all the youthful talent brought to the club by Howe, the most exciting young player is Burnley born and raised. Twenty two year-old forward Jay Rodriguez (of Spanish descent in case you were wondering), is top-scorer for his home-town club this season with 13 league strikes.
Rodriguez`s impressive form over the last couple of seasons has earned him international honours last February when he made his England U21 debut against Italy.
If Howe can pull this squad together and round to his way of thinking then next year could well be an exciting year to be a Burnley fan after the disappointment of last season`s failed promotion push under Brian Laws.
Skipper Chris McCann could well miss the Vic` trip after being substituted in the first-half against Millwall on Saturday and with few central midfield options Howe could elect to play Josh McQuoid or Martin Paterson wide right and put Ross Wallace in the middle.
Sean Dyche will be sweating on the fitness of Lee Hodson and Sean Murray who both missed last weekend`s defeat by Southampton and will call upon Carl Dickinson and Mark Yeates if needed. Martin Taylor and Stephen McGinn are both progressing well but neither is match fit.
Watford: Kuszczak; Doyley, Mariappa, Nosworthy, Dickinson; Yeates, Eustace (c), Hogg, Kacaniklic; Trotta & Deeney.
Burnley: Grant; Trippier, Edgar, Duff, Mee; McQuoid, Bartley, Wallace, Treacy; Rodriguez & Austin.
Match Officials: (R) Mr M Naylor; (ARs)
r C Lymer & Mr W Norcott; (4th) Mr J Busby.
Date:Friday March 2 2012
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