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New Burnley skipper hoping for flying start to season
NEW captain Jason Shackell says Burnley can burst out of the blocks this season.
The central defender is one of five new players manager Eddie Howe has been able to bed in two weeks before the scheduled Capital One Cup game at Port Vale provides their curtain-raiser to the 2012/13 campaign.
At least one more signing is expected before the action begins, with the Clarets believed to be closing in on long-term target Brian Stock.
But the squad as it stands is one that Shackell believes is already on track for the new season, which opens up with the visit of Owen Coyle’s newly relegated Bolton Wanderers.
“I think it’s working up nicely and it’s all coming to a point where we’re going to be 100 per cent ready and raring to go,” said the 28-year-old ahead of this afternoon’s friendly at Cheltenham Town.
Burnley then round off their programme of friendlies with a trip to Rochdale on Tuesday night.
“We’ve got two tougher games coming up with Cheltenham and Rochdale so that will get us ready.
“I’m itching to get going now. It’s only a couple of weeks away and I think with a couple more games and a nice bit of fitness we won’t be far off.
“I think it’s been the right programme for us.”
Meanwhile, striker Martin Paterson has reassured fans that he is fighting fit, after missing the midweek friendly at Bath City.
The 24-year-old was absent from the squad that won 3-1 on the first of two games on their pre-season tour.
But Paterson, who has been beset by injury problems since his 19 goals helped to fire the Clarets into the Premier League three years ago, insists it was nothing to worry about.
“I completed the first two games (at Altrincham and Bury) and sat out Tuesday just because I had a little kick to the knee. I could have played, but there is no point taking risks, so I sat that one out and did my extra work in the gym and I’m back training hard now and looking forward to competing,” he said.
“I feel I have come back the fittest I have ever been. I’ve done an awful lot of rehab over the summer and without going into too much detail I am fitter than ever.
“I had a few hamstring problems, but that is something that has now been addressed. It took a few setbacks to get to the root of the problem, but that’s solved now and I think if you ask anyone who has seen me train, they will tell you that I’m looking a lot like my old self.
“It is quite complex when you have someone who plays the way I do and expects to do many high intensity sprints. When you start picking up problems it can be difficult to diagnose, but we think we have got to the root cause and certain exercises have helped to strengthen the area.
“I am doing all the right things to keep myself fit and the proof is in the pudding. Touch wood, I’ll stay as I am.”