OPTIMISTIC Burnley boss Eddie Howe believes injured striker Martin Paterson could be available for selection before Christmas.
The Clarets hitman has been sidelined since the opening day of the season after being withdrawn at half-time in the 2-2 draw against Watford with a thigh strain.
The 24-year-old had initially been ruled out of action for up to three months, but his expected recovery date was then prolonged as the striker underwent revolutionary treatment, whereby his own blood was injected into the tear in a procedure called platelet-rich plasma (PRP) to strengthen the healing process.
It was a huge setback for Paterson and Howe, as the former Scunthorpe United man was also forced out of action earlier in the year when he limped off during the 1-0 defeat to Doncaster Rovers at the Keepmoat Stadium in February.
Danny Ings has also stepped up his rehabilitation after sustaining a freak training ground injury.
The 19-year-old was forced to undergo surgery on his knee after suffering a cartilage tear during shooting practice, just days after signing a four-year deal at Turf Moor.
“Pato is doing really well and we’re really pleased with his progress,” said Howe.
“We will hopefully get him back in training at some stage this week. I don’t know exactly when but that’s the plan.
“Danny Ings was running around the training pitch last week so it was good to see him back.
“He’s on the sidelines but at least he’s able to run. That’s a big, positive step.
“We need to get both players back. Danny is still some distance off, but if we can manage to get Pato back in the next few weeks then, it will be a massive boost for everyone.
“He adds massive quality to our front-line, and we’re really keen to get him back.”
And Howe hopes to add further depth to his squad before the loan window slams shut a week on Thursday.
The Clarets boss has suffered relative misfortune in the current window, with failed efforts to land Stoke City defender Ryan Shotton the most documented.
Howe said: “We are looking at our options and we are keen to do something before the window shuts.
“We’ve identified targets and we’re working on bringing those players in. It’s just a case of can we get it over the line, that’s where we are at the moment.”
Reports have linked Howe with a move for French defender Sebastien Puygrenier.
The former Bolton Wanderers loan man is currently contracted to Russian club Zenit St Petersburg, but has been training with Ligue 1 outfit Monaco.
The 29-year-old was expected to arrive in East Lancashire on trial yesterday.
The Clarets went in to the international break on the back of a disappointing 3-1 reverse to Bristol City at Ashton Gate, the second time they’d finished on the wrong end of that scoreline in a matter of days.
But Howe feels that he and his squad have prospered from their time together during that period.
“We’ve reflected and assessed the way we work, what we’re doing and the way that we’re going. Not in terms of principles or style, but in terms of little tweaks that we can make to how we work.
“It’s been a good process, we’ve enjoyed it.
“We’ve looked at different formations in training, tweaking things, but it’s a constant process and something we do even if we’re winning.”
The Clarets have managed just one clean sheet in 31 league and cup games, conceding 52 goals in that sequence, including 30 in 19 games this season.
Howe hopes to improve on that record in the trans-Pennine derby against Leeds United on Saturday.
He said: “We’ve given the lads a few games off – those who have played a lot of games in a short period of time.
“The other lads were in and we’ve had some good days training. Now we’re looking forward to next week and getting back to playing.
“For long periods of the Leicester game, in the first half in particular, we were really in control, and looked like the team most likely to go on and win it.
“So to concede three goals was hugely disappointing.
“The same goes for Bristol because for long periods we were in control of that game especially when we equalised.
“We had a period of the game there up until their second goal where we were well on top. To concede six in our last two has been hugely disappointing.
“There’s definitely a determination in the lads, nobody wants to lose games and we’re disappointed to lose two games in a row.
“We are very keen to get back to match action and get the games against Leeds going. It’s a home game and we’re looking forward to it.
“I didn’t think we performed too badly in our last home game, and in the previous game with Blackpool, played well too.
“We love playing in front of our own fans and we’re looking forward to the game.”