CLARETS boss Eddie Howe is desperate for reinforcements ahead of the close of the transfer window on Friday night – but fearful he may not have the funds.
With Danny Ings out for between three and six months with a knee injury picked up in pre-season, and Martin Paterson having suffered a grade one hamstring tear in the opening day win over Bolton, Howe’s striking pool has been severely depleted.
But despite the bonus of the sell-on clause activated by former striker Steven Fletcher’s (pictured, below) £14m move from Wolves to Sunderland, Howe admits he doesn’t expect to see the proceeds.
Howe has agreed a deal to sign Vancouver Whitecaps’ Jamaican international winger Dane Richards - but the 28-year-old will only arrive in January when the window reopens after the end of the MLS season.
And Howe said: “We’d be hopeful to add to the squad, but whether or not we can is a different matter.
“I’m very supportive of the board and what they’re trying to do – it’s a case of finances, and we’ll have to see if we can.
“The Fletcher move was good news, but that may already have been accounted for.
“I’ll have to wait and see. It’s not my call, but I hope it helps.”
I understand the Fletcher money – of which a percentage is also due to his first club Hibernian – is still filtering through from Wolves and isn’t likely to reach the coffers in time for the 11 p.m. deadline on Friday, while the wage bill at Turf Moor remains at a high level and needs reducing.
That means Howe is expected to have to try and move out fringe players before he can add to his squad, and he said: “The slight difficulty we’ve had in the last two away games is that the team’s picked itself, and in turn picked the system, which is slightly difficult for us. Keith Treacy’s not fit to play, Marvin Bartley’s not fit to start, so although we’ve got bodies on the bench in terms of actually being fit to start games, it’s slightly difficult.
“So our hands are tied a little bit in terms of how we’re setting up. It’s not an excuse, we’ve got to deal with it.”
Howe expects Paterson back shortly to boost his hand, however: “I’m frustrated for him and for us. It’s nothing serious, we’ve had the area scanned, it is just a really minor tweak so it’s nothing to shout from the rooftops about. It’s a slight setback for him, but he’ll be back.
“He has a grade one on his hamstring, which is a really tiny tear, so we expect Martin back very soon. Whether he makes the Brighton game on Saturday or not we’ll have to wait and see.
“We’re desperate to get him fit, and hopefully he’s not too long.”
Before Brighton, Burnley are in Capital One Cup action at home to League 2 Plymouth Argyle tonight, and Howe will give players on the periphery a chance to shine: “It’s an important game for us back on home soil, and hopefully we can be positive at home and carry on from where we left off against Bolton.
“They’re always difficult games. We may well rotate our squad as well and have a look at a couple of other players, so it’s a good chance to step up to the plate.
“We’ve always got players who aren’t playing who want to play, and there are a few who definitely need a game – returning from injury and so on – so it’s a good opportunity for us to put in a performance while rotating the squad.
“I think it’s important we do that. You can’t expect the same players to play 50 games a season. I think we suffered with that last year and hopefully we can mix things up a little bit but still be strong.
“But you’ve got to be so careful. Plymouth are no mugs – I know Carl Fletcher very well and I’m sure he’ll be determined to win the game, so we’ve got to make sure first of all we win the match, but I still think we can do that.
“When you look at our bench, a lot of those players were regular starters for us last year, a few have picked up injuries and are returning to fitness, so it will be good to give them some match time.”
With Brighton enjoying a free week after losing 3-0 at Swindon in the first round, Howe added: “Brighton haven’t got a game before we play them at the weekend, so we’ve got to make sure we take care of business, but we also have half an eye on Saturday, which is so important.”