THERE may be lies, damn lies and statistics but a close look at Burnley's results this season one thing is crystal clear - they need Glen Little.

That is not to suggest the Clarets are a one man team, it is simply an acknowledgement that when he is playing, Burnley are much stronger.

It is a fact of life at the very biggest clubs in the land. Would Manchester United have gone top again if Ruud Van Nistelrooy had been injured for the last eight games?

Why are Liverpool so fragile up front when Michael Owen isn't in the side?

And why has Arsene Wenger said he would turn down £50million for Patrick Vieira, the man who makes his side tick?

It is the same at every club but at Turf Moor the statistics show that the two mini slumps endured by Stan Ternent's men have coincided with the absence of the mercurial winger.

Little has started 20 matches this season and has been on the losing side just three times, twice against Manchester City and in the away defeat at Norwich when he limped off near the end.

Of the 60 points up for grabs in those game Burnley have won 45 with 14 wins and three draws. That is championship winning form.

In stark contrast, in the eight games he has not started, the Clarets have garnered just six points. That would spell relegation over a season.

The goals record is also telling. The Clarets hit the 50 mark for the season with Gareth Taylor's penalty at the weekend.

But in the games that Little did not start they have netted just eight times, six coming in the high scoring draws with Crewe and Barnsley, a ratio of a goal a game.

With Little the strike rate has been more than double that.

It is not even that the winger has been outstanding in every game. In the matches at Preston and Crystal Palace he was some way below his best but the three points were still collected.

The key fact is that other club's fear him, his unpredictability, his skill, his knack of making things happen.

After he shone against Sheffield United the Blades boss Neil Warnock begged Burnley to sell Little for the sake of the rest of the division.

Ternent has been unlucky in the fact that Little has been missing at times when others have been out as well. When he missed six games in the autumn Alan Moore was also sidelined.

At the weekend Paul Weller, who is well used to a wide right role, was ruled out leaving Ternent with reduced options. The introduction of Robbie Blake would be a positive mood as, like Little, he can deliver the unexpected in and around the box.

It already looks likely that Little will be ruled out of the FA Cup fourth round clash with Cheltenham on Sunday.

But, importantly, physio Ian Liversedge has got nearly a fortnight to work on Little ahead of the next league match against West Bromwich Albion.

Gary Megson was not unhappy that Little missed the clash at The Hawthorns, Ternent will be hoping he can call on his talisman this time around.

With Little:

P 20 W 14 L 3 D 3 Pts 45

Without Little:

P 8 W 1 L 4 D 3 Pts 6