Six days to go - who will and won't be there?

30 June 2012 01:56
The new season is edging ever closer. It's nine weeks since Derek McInnes brought Bristol City to Turf Moor to close last season and we are now just seven weeks away from another former St. Johnstone boss Owen Coyle bringing Bolton to kick off 2012/13. Brian Jensen is still to sign his new deal

The close season, three weeks longer this year, gives most of us a break. Many take their holidays whilst my target this summer was to try and lose a stone in weight. I'm delighted to report that I'm almost there but I'm not sure Clarets' boss Eddie Howe is close to his targets.

As was the case last year, he said he wanted to do most of his business ahead of the players returning for pre-season training. That's all but on us now; they are back on Friday and so far only Luke O'Neill from Mansfield has been added to the squad.

We're not alone. Only eleven of the Championship clubs have signed more than one player so far but not many of the other clubs were so short of players at the end of last season that young kids, who would have otherwise been nowhere near, were making up the numbers on the bench.

So who will be there next Friday and who won't? O'Neill will, joining his new team mates for the first time but there will be no meeting with Jay Rodriguez, now at Southampton, or either Andre Amougou or Brian Easton who were both released at the end of last season.

Our most experienced outfield player won't be there either. Michael Duff picked up injuries in Northern Ireland's recent hammering against Holland. "Duffo  rolled his ankle and just tweaked his knee in a tackle," Howe said. "He has been for a scan. We don't envisage there being too many problems and we hope he can start pre-season training and if not, then just after the rest of the lads."

Of more concern, Howe added: "He did tweak his knee slightly and I think he would have been out for a period of time in the middle of the season. We are going to wrap him in cotton wool and hopefully get him through pre-season and the early games of the season injury free."

Maybe no Duff, and definitely no David Edgar. He's been given an extra ten days off because of all his travelling over the summer, winning caps for Canada in their attempts to qualify for the 2014 World Cup, and our youngest professional won't be reporting back either.

That's Cameron Howieson. He won't be back until after the Olympics after being called up for the games as part of the Oly Whites squad as 2012 just gets better and better for him.

Everyone else under contract should be back but time will tell with the four players offered deals who are yet to put pen to paper. All of Brian Jensen, Alex MacDonald, Joe Jackson and Shay McCartan were offered contracts by the club but as yet none of them have signed.

Suggestions this week were that Jensen was close but there has been enough speculation that he might decide not to sign for a tenth year at Turf Moor with Alex MacDonald also considering his future.

A year ago there were no new signings on the first day of training. This year there is definitely one but could there be more. Howe hinted there would earlier in the week but things might have changed.

Speaking about his initial plans to get players in early, Howe said yesterday: "It's not an ideal world and we have found it quite difficult this summer to get the players we are chasing, for a variety of reasons.

"The market has been very slow and we face competition for the players we want from other clubs, which is only natural. Good players are coveted by many clubs, not just ourselves, so we are finding it a challenge to get players we want.

The inevitable Marc Pugh link

"But I think it's worth pursuing our top targets and that's what we are continuing to do. We know who we want and let's see if we can get a couple over the line."

There has been no confirmation from Howe as to who the targets are but there has been enough speculation around to be able to put forward the names of Jason Shackell, Adam Clayton, Brett Pitman and Sam Vokes, whilst that of Norwich's Chris Martin won't go away.

Yesterday came news that we have an interest in Australian goalkeeper Mat Ryan who plays for Central Coast Mariners. The press in Sydney are reporting that he could be at Burnley for a trial as early as next week.

He's 20 and has been named goalkeeper of the year as well as being called into Holger Osieck's Australian World Cup squad in February.

They have said that Burnley want Ryan for a two-week trial starting on July 6, but the Mariners have yet to give the green light. Football director Lawrie McKinna said: ''We've had the request, it's not an offer as yet and we're considering it.

''Our only big concern is that he hasn't trained for four weeks, and we want to make sure he's fit enough to go over. If he's underdone, you risk an injury, and we don't want that.''

And, as always, there are links with former players. Richard Chaplow was thought by some to be part of the Rodriguez deal. He wasn't, but I understand that he's a player who continues to interest Howe whilst Marc Pugh does given the latest news.

Former youth player Pugh has turned down the offer of a new deal at Bournemouth so they have said they will listen to offers for him rather than let him run his contract down next season. It was inevitable that we'd be linked with him, we have been ever since Eddie Howe became manager.

Could he be set for a return? Who knows? Hopefully the squad news will be less confused in six days time.

Me, I'll just get another couple of pounds off and be ready for Mossley two weeks today.