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Burnley column: Plenty playing their way into selection thoughts
SAM Vokes made his strongest case for a starting place yet with his late headed equaliser, restoring parity in the derby, and therefore a point.
He might never score a more important goal in the eyes of the Burnley fans.
The Wales international etched his name in Turf Moor folklore with a first home goal against the old enemy in nigh on 34 years.
He would unquestionably rather etch his name on the teamsheet though.
Charlie Austin has eulogised about the impact the strapping striker can have in an attacking partnership.
In essence, Vokes would bulldoze defenders about for Austin to knock in the knockdowns. It was a formula that paid incredible dividends for messrs Lochhead (the bruiser) and Irvine (the netbuster) back in the day.
Austin has proved himself capable of forming a partnership no matter what the fellow forward's style or stature.
But you can see why lining up alongside Vokes in particular would have its benefits for the former Swindon Town hotshot, who was prolific alongside powerhouse Billy Paynter at his former club.
Vokes would provide a welcome distraction for defenders too as far as Austin is concerned, for as the lone striker has found space and service hard to come by against some of the division’s more resolute backlines.
But if Vokes comes in, who misses out?
And would manager Sean Dyche be prepared to sacrifice the holding midfield role to set out 4-4-2, as the inclusion of Vokes would require?
Since starting against Blackpool under Terry Pashley’s caretaker watch, and keeping his place ever since, Brian Stock has been a revelation as the rearguard buffer, bringing a sense of organisation and calm under pressure, while his pass completion rate means there are few unforced errors when it comes to playing out from the back.
Although there have been times when the former Doncaster midfielder has appeared to tire as the game has worn on, his presence would be missed, not least by the likes of Dean Marney and Chris McCann who have revelled in the freedom borne from Stock's security.
There isn’t just Vokes to consider of course. Junior Stanislas is playing his way towards a recall with some eye-catching performances from the bench.
Indeed, while the ever-willing Stanislas has struggled for an end product on the left of a front three, the former West Ham wide man has come off the bench to lay on the delivery for both of Vokes’ goal in the last five games.
The youngster is on the road to recovery after a tough baptism under Dyche. Stanislas had one of his first games of the season in a 4-0 defeat at Cardiff where the then manager-in-waiting was watching.
But in his cameo appearances of late he has displayed some of the eye-catching form which made him one of the most improved players over the last 12 months, and a one to watch for the opposition.
There has been consistency in selection since Dyche’s appointment, and in many ways no real reason for that to change given the unbeaten mini-run that Burnley are on.
He will be forced into one change at Nottingham Forest this weekend, with Ben Mee ruled out for at least four weeks with medial knee ligament damage.
Another chance is likely to present itself to Danny Lafferty.
But if competition for places is to count, and performances are to be rewarded, then Vokes and Stanislas have posed a strong case for inclusion this weekend.
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