FORMER Clarets boss Owen Coyle will run the gauntlet as he brings his relegated Bolton Wanderers side to Turf Moor for the Championship opener on August 18th.
The fixtures were unveiled this morning and threw up a strange quirk of fate as Burnley were handed a home start against the manager who took them into the Premier League – before leaving them high and dry halfway through the campaign to join his old club.
Coyle and Bolton survived as the Clarets were relegated, but two years on their paths meet again after the Trotters suffered the drop after losing a club record 11 home games.
The match-up also means a return for Burnley legend Steve Davis, who also left for the Reebok with Coyle and a host of backroom staff, and Chris Eagles and Tyrone Mears, who followed the same path in a combined £3m switch last summer.
Coyle did make an unsuccessful return to the Turf when losing 1-0 to Burnley in the Carling Cup two years ago to a Wade Elliott goal.
Clarets boss Eddie Howe said of the opening day match-up: “We’re fully aware of how huge a game it is, there’s a lot of interest in the fixture in different aspects – I’m sure Chris and Tyrone will be looking forward to coming back, and for the supporters and everyone at the club it’s a fantastic game.”
Howe’s side follow up the Bolton game with a trip to Middlesbrough on Tuesday, August 21st – scene of one of their best displays last season – before making the short trip to promoted Huddersfield on the 25th.
September 1st brings a home clash with Brighton, before the first international break of the season.
However, the two games that stand out most are, of course, the meetings with relegated Blackburn Rovers, as Burnley look to end 33 years of hurt against the old enemy.
Steve Kean brings his players to Turf Moor on Saturday, December 1st, before the trip to Ewood on March 16th.
If the original date remains unchanged in December, it will be the first time the sides have met on a Saturday since April 1979 – the last time Burnley beat Rovers, winning 2-1 at Ewood – which Clarets fans will hope is an omen.
The return with Bolton at the Reebok is on February 9th, while the games with Blackpool are at the Turf on October 20th and at Bloomfield Road on April 13th.
The curtain comes down on the campaign at home to Ipswich Town on May 4th.
• I understand stories linking Burnley with York City’s James Meredith and Manchester United’s Ezekiel Fryers are wide of the mark.
Full fixtures will appear in Tuesday’s Burnley Express