CLARETS boss Eddie Howe may be forced into changes for tonight’s Carling Cup fourth round tie at Cardiff City.
Striker Jay Rodriguez was initially thought to have broken his nose in setting up Burnley’s equaliser in the 2-1 win at Coventry City on Saturday, while Howe has a couple of other injury concerns ahead of the trip to the Cardiff City Stadium.
With no loan signings on the horizon, Howe has only 18 available senior professionals, after recalling Wes Fletcher from his loan spell at Accrington Stanley – with Fletcher eligible to play after already featuring in the Carling Cup for the Clarets this season as a substitute in the 6-3 first-round win over Burton Albion.
While the prize of a place in quarter-finals is not to be sniffed at, Howe also has to take into consideration Saturday’s televised Lancashire derby with Blackpool, and the visit of Leicester City next Tuesday.
He said: “It’s the business end of the competition. The only downside from our point of view it’s right in the middle of Saturday-Tuesday in the league. We’ve such a small squad it’s a difficult game for us to prepare for.
“You want to win the game, that’s for sure, but you’ve also got half an eye on Saturday.
“We’ll have a look at what we have in the squad. We’ve got a couple of injury concerns as well so we’ve got to take that into consideration.
“It’s going to be a difficult team to pick bearing in mind we’re desperate to progress in the competition as well. It’s a massive prize, if we can get through this round who knows what can happen.
“That’s why the game’s so important for us, we want to win it.
“There may be an opportunity for some young players who haven’t played a lot of football to come in and stake their claim.”
Howe added: “Jay is a concern after taking a nasty whack – I think everyone knows about that.
“We have other worries as well, which we’ll keep to ourselves at this stage, and then try to pick the best team I can.
“There are a couple of things to think about when you break your nose – your breathing and also if you get another whack on it.
“We want Jay fit for Saturday so we’ve got all those things to consider. That’s not to say that he’s out, but we’ll make a late decision on it.”
Michael Duff and Brian Jensen remain on the sidelines along with Martin Paterson and Danny Ings.
And Howe continues to be frustrated in his efforts to bring players in on loan. Having been under a transfer embargo at Bournemouth, it hasn’t been as challenging as that time, but he would like to see some light at the end of the tunnel.
He said: “For three months, I was trying to bring players in at Bournemouth because I was told in a week’s time we’d be able to sign players.
“In the end it was a year, and it was only probably the last nine months I knew I could stop trying because it wasn’t going to happen.
“The first three months of that was an absolute nightmare. I felt we had to improve the squad and we ended up getting promoted that season, which is probably a lesson in itself.
“It’s not been as bad here. We are trying to bring players in, but it’s not every day. It’s not been a daily problem. You identify a player and work on that and sometimes you get a little frustrated. I’m not trying to bring huge numbers in, it’s just one or two quality signings would make a difference I think.”