Alexander leaves Burnley FC

CLARETS stalwart Graham Alexander has left the club.

Monday, 4th July 2011, 7:00 pm

The 39-year-old has played his last game for Burnley, after a settlement was reached on the remaining year of his coaching contract.

Alexander had a year remaining on his contract - but not a playing contract - and, under the conditions of his last deal, signed last summer, was given the option of a coaching role to consider.

But the Preston legend, who played all 61 of Burnley’s games in the promotion season and captained the Clarets in the Premier League, is eager to extend his playing career – which stands at 1,003 senior appearances.

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He has turned down the chance to join the coaching set-up, but, having failed to make a single start under boss Eddie Howe after his January arrival, was not expected to play a part in Howe’s plans, as he looks to build a younger squad at the club.

Alexander is free to find a new club, now the terms of his release have been agreed.

It is a sad end to a distinguished Burnley career for a player who made the switch from Deepdale in August 2007, and became reinvented as a holding midfielder – a move he himself has admitted extended his career.

Signed for an initial £100,000 after North End dallied over the length of a new contract for a player who made 400 appearances for the club, he played a critical role as Owen Coyle led Burnley to the top-flight, missing only 24 minutes of a marathon campaign, while popping up with some crucial goals – the majority from the penalty spot as he further embellished a remarkable reputation of penalty success.

And when club captain Steven Caldwell was injured on international duty on the eve of the season, he took the armband and led out the Clarets into their inaugural Premier League season.

He became club captain last summer under Brian Laws, but found his opportunities limited upon the arrival of Howe, edging towards the 1,000 appearances mark from the bench.

Meanwhile, striker Martin Paterson continues to catch the eye of Championship rivals.

Burnley have already turned down two offers from Portsmouth, believed to be in the region of £1.5m, for the 24-year-old.

And he is also thought to be interesting Reading, who are facing the prospect of losing Shane Long – whose 25 goals in 50 games last season have attracted Premier League interest.

But while the Royals are believed to have made an enquiry, there is yet to be an official offer, and any offer would meet with the same response – hands off!

Paterson had a frustrating campaign, punctuated by a recurring thigh problem – starting only one game from August onwards, in November when he netted twice at Norwich.

Howe has yet to see the best of him, and as said last week: “We have very good young strikers and it doesn’t surprise me that there is interest.

“It speaks volumes about Pato that he still attracts interest despite being out injured for a while.

“But I don’t want to lose anyone – you want to keep your best players – and I would like some new signings to complement them.

“It will be a huge boost to have him back.

“Pato has an infectious character.

“He is the type you want in any team, he’s hungry, wants to win things and is desperate to play.

“You hope that enthusiasm rubs off on the other players in the squad.

“And I’m very keen to see him playing again and hopefully scoring goals.

“A fit Martin Paterson can only benefit us.”