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Players can still stake claim for place, says Burnley boss
BURNLEY manager Eddie Howe insists the first team door remains open, as he gets closer to naming the side to face Bolton Wanderers on the first day of the Championship season.
The Clarets boss has worked with different systems and personnel during the summer – and although he is likely to have an idea of who he will name in his starting XI on derby day, he says there is still an opportunity for all of his players to push for a place.
Burnley play their final scheduled friendly at Rochdale tonight, hoping to continue their 100 per cent pre-season record, before facing newly promoted Huddersfield Town in a behind-closed doors game.
The Clarets are set to travel to Port Vale for the first round of the Capital One Cup next Tuesday, providing the administration hit League Two club can fulfil the fixture after friendlies against Coventry City and Tranmere Rovers had to be played behind closed doors because maintenance work was incomplete.
Vale must have safety certificates in place for the game to go ahead on August 14.
For striker Martin Paterson and left back Daniel Lafferty, however, this week will be their last opportunity to make an impression on Howe’s first team plans as the duo have received call-ups for Northern Ireland’s friendly against Finland, which will be played in Belfast 24 hours after the cup tie.
Defender Michael Duff has not been included in the Michael O’Neill’s 23-man squad.
But Howe will run the rule over all of his players this week.
“There’s still time,” he said. “I wanted to play certain players longer (at Cheltenham) on Saturday, I thought they needed those minutes under their belt, but I haven’t made any firm decisions yet.
“We’ve got the Rochdale game, we’ve then got a behind-closed-doors game against Huddersfield so I’m going to look to give everyone in the squad 90 minutes this week, because I think that’s important.”
The Burnley boss added: “From my perspective pre-season is a good time because you can get to experiment and work with things and really bed things in for what you want to do throughout the season.
“Hopefully we’ve just about got it right.
“I think the lads are ready.”
Howe is still looking to add to his squad before the new campaign begins, with Sheffield United’s Nick Montgomery linked with a move to Turf Moor after their bid for Doncaster’s Brian Stock stalled.
Montgomery has one year left to run on his contract, but the Blades are looking to offload their defensive midfielder - one of their top earners – to reduce the wage bill as they face another season in League One and the Clarets are understood to have made tentative enquiries.
Millwall and Leeds United are also believed to be monitoring the 30-year-old, who has made over 350 league appearance since joining Sheffield United in October 2000.
Meanwhile, the Clarets have released their squad numbers for the new season.
1: Lee Grant, 2: Kieran Trippier, 3: Daniel Lafferty, 4: Michael Duff, 5: Jason Shackell, 6: Chris McCann, 7: Ross Wallace, 8: Dean Marney, 9: Sam Vokes, 10: Martin Paterson, 11: Junior Stanislas, 12: Brian Jensen, 14: Danny Ings, 15: David Edgar, 16: Luke O'Neill, 17: George Porter, 18: Joseph Mills, 20: Marvin Bartley, 23: Charlie Austin, 26: Keith Treacy, 27: Alex MacDonald, 28: Kevin Long, 30: Jon Stewart, 32: Cameron Howieson, 33: Steven Hewitt, 36: Ben Mee, 39: Wes Fletcher, 40: Joe Jackson