Martin Paterson is transfer target

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FORMER Burnley boss Steve Cotterill is eager to raid his old club for striker Martin Paterson.

But I understand a Portsmouth approach for the 24-year-old has already been rebuffed.

Cotterill has been linked with a £1.5m, bid for Paterson, as he looks to pair him with Derby’s Luke Varney, who spent last season on loan at Blackpool.

However, the Clarets are not thought to be willing to sell a player who cost an initial £1m. from Scunthorpe three years ago, and still has two years remaining on his contract.

The former Stoke City youngster netted 19 goals in his first season at Turf Moor, as Burnley were promoted to the Premier Division and reached the Carling Cup semi-final, but his impact has been restricted by injury in the last two campaigns, making just 40 appearances and netting seven goals.

Eddie Howe has yet to see the best of Paterson, who scored in Howe’s first home game in charge – the FA Cup tie against Burton Albion in January – before a recurrence of a thigh injury at Doncaster on February 1st curtailed his season.

He ended the campaign with a well-taken reserve team goal against Preston North End, but was not risked in the final two first team games.

Howe is looking forward to seeing Paterson and January signing Charlie Austin back fully fit, saying recently: “I think there is a strong base to build on, and it’s just a case of bringing in a bit more quality in certain areas.

“I think we will be okay, but you also have to bear in mind that with Martin Paterson, Charlie Austin and hopefully Chris McCann back from long-term injuries, it will be like having three new signings.”

Last season Paterson was continually linked with a switch to Championship rivals Derby County.

County chief Nigel Clough made a move to take him on loan last term, but that bid, and a potential £1m. switch to Pride Park, was shot down by then-boss Brian Laws.

Cotterill is thought to have eyed Paterson for some time now, with the forward linked as a potential makeweight in a deal to take David Nugent to Turf Moor last summer, following his season on loan with Burnley.

Andre Bikey was also mooted as a target in the deal – and again was rumoured to be in Cotterill’s sights this summer.

Bikey will enter the final year of his contract when the Clarets report for pre-season duty on Thursday, but Howe stressed that there have been no concrete offers for his players: “We haven’t received any bids, but I’m not surprised there’s interest in our players.

“No contact has been made about those players, and we won’t be encouraging any bids either.

“We want to keep all our best players that’s for certain.

“We want to be competitive next year and fighting at the top end of the table and we’ll need our best players to do that.”