Burnley striker Paterson withdrawn from Northern Ireland squad

FOCUSING ON BURNLEY: Martin Paterson
FOCUSING ON BURNLEY: Martin Paterson

CLARETS striker Martin Paterson will not be linking up with Northern Ireland to face Luxembourg tonight.

As the 25-year-old focuses on being fit for Burnley’s important clash at home to pointless Peterborough United on Saturday, he will, instead, spend the week training at Gawthorpe.

The former Scunthorpe United forward suffered a Grade One hamstring tear in the opening day win over Bolton Wanderers, and sat out the following three games, before returning as a second half substitute against Brighton last Saturday.

That night he asked Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill if he could withdraw from the squad to travel to Russia, before hosting Luxembourg, before a compromise was reached.

Paterson missed the trip to the Lokomotiv Stadium in Moscow, where the Irish went down 2-0 to Fabio Capello’s Russia in their opening World Cup qualifying game, with a decision to be made over the weekend as to whether he returned for tonight’s game at Windsor Park.

However, Clarets chief Eddie Howe feels the best solution is for Paterson to build up his fitness ahead of the visit of the Posh: “I just think it’s best that he has a week’s training with us really.”

Paterson scored his first goal for his country on his 14th appearance last month - a late penalty to earn a 3-3 draw with Finland.

And Howe is under no illusions as to the importance of Paterson to his side - Burnley are unbeaten in the last 11 games he has started, including seven wins.

However, he has featured only 49 times since suffering a medial knee ligament injury three years ago in a Carling Cup clash at Barnsley, suffering a string of thigh and hamstring problems.

He has subsequently changed his diet, eating foods that aid recovery of muscles, such as oily fishes, cut out alcohol completely, and installed a gym in his own home to help strengthen his muscles to cope with the succession of high-intensity sprints he is renowned for.

He said in pre-season: “I feel I have come back the fittest I have ever been.

“I’ve done an awful lot of rehab over the summer, and without going into too much detail, I am fitter than ever.

“I think if you ask anyone who has seen me train, they will tell you that I’m looking a lot like my old self.”

That was very much the case on the opening day against Bolton, and Owen Coyle, who brought him to Turf Moor in the summer of 2008.

Paterson is out on contract in the summer, but the club have opened negotiations over extending his stay, along with midfielder Chris McCann.

Meanwhile, defender David Edgar won his 12th cap for Canada on Friday as they beat Panama 1-0 to go top of their World Cup qualifying group, ahead of the return fixture today.

Canada must finish in the top two of the four-team group to qualify for the next stage.

Striker Sam Vokes won his 23rd Wales cap as a substitute for Norwich’s Steve Morison in the 2-0 home defeat against Belgium on Friday.

Winger Dane Richards, who will join the club from Vancouver Whitecaps on New Year’s Day, was an unused substitute for Jamaica in Kingston in their 1-0 win over USA.

• The Burnley Express has launched a FREE football app which is now available to download on iPhone and Android devices.