ANDY Payton is out of Burnley's survival battle at Bournemouth tomorrow, forcing player-boss Chris Waddle into a major rethink over his strike force.

Payton has gone down with a groin strain, leaving Burnley with only one recognised striker in Andy Cooke.

And that could mean Waddle moving into the front line again, as he did earlier this season.

But the manager does have options and has added young strikers Phil Eastwood and Colin Carr-Lawton to the squad.

There is also the possibility of playing 4-5-1 as Burnley know they must get something from the trek to the South coast.

"We've lost a proven goalscorer which is an obvious blow," he said today. "But we have options and I might start up there myself. Or I could give Glen Little a free role and have one of the young strikers on the bench if it doesn't work out.

"What we need to do is to keep a clean sheet and then it's up to the rest of the side to make sure we get a goal or two."

Burnley know they must show all their battling qualities to take a step nearer Second Division safety.

And Mark Ford will have a major role as the provider of the steel in the Clarets midfield as they look for the win that could take them out of the bottom four. Ford was badly missed as Burnley flopped in their last away game at Wigan and, with two games on the road in the next five days possibly shaping the club's destiny, his return to form is a blessing.

It hasn't always been that way but the summer buy from Leeds United feels he is back on his game and prospering in the 4-4-2 formation he was used to at Elland Road.

"I had a poor first half of the season, I know that in my own head," he admitted.

"I didn't really understand the way the league went, how fast it would be and the less time you would have on the ball but I think I have done quite well in the last few games and even in the second half of the season I have come on and I am relishing it."

Having played 16 Premiership games for Leeds last season and won England under-21 caps Ford could hardly have envisaged facing a battle to stay out of the Third Division. "I don't think any of us want to drop to the third to be honest," he added.

"We all know that we have let ourselves down this year and if we do go down it would be devastating for all of us but it's in our own hands now."

Two wins in the next two games could be enough to keep Burnley up depending on how Plymouth and Brentford fare tomorrow but Ford is not looking to rely on others in the final leg of the marathon.

"It's a mini-season these three games. If we take nine points we know we are safe and that's what I hope to do," he said.

While Ford is sure of his place at Bournemouth, who need three wins themselves to have any chance of sneaking into the play-offs, Waddle also has to make changes because of the suspensions to John Mullin and Gerry Harrison.

Harrison's absence is likely to earn a recall for Chris Brass who also took his place in the Auto Windscreens Shield northern final against Grimsby and enjoyed his best game of the season in his favoured central defensive position before a knee injury sustained in that game forced him onto the sidelines.

"Now it's my chance and if I play on Saturday I have got to go out and do as well as I can and hopefully hold on to my shirt come Tuesday at Oldham," said Brass. "It's frustrating, especially at this time of the season with a relegation battle looming to be sat on the bench and not feel you are playing a part but the squad is all in it together. But I would be happy to sit out the whole season on the bench if we survive in this league."

Bournemouth, with three wins and a draw in their last five league games, are set to include on-loan Chelsea striker Mark Stein.

Burnley from: Woods, Weller, Winstanley, Brass, Moore, Little, Waddle, Ford, Cooke, Matthew, Robertson, Vinnicombe, Hoyland, Eastwood, Carr-Lawton.

Bournemouth from: Glass, Dean, Vincent, O'Neill, Cox, Bailey, Howe, Rolling, Stein, Brissett, Warren, Fletcher, Beardsmore, Town, Rawlinson, Robinson.

Converted for the new archive on 14 July 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.