Burnley boss Howe keen to keep squad together

TOP TARGET: Goal ace Jay Rodriquez is bound to attract attention during the transfer window.

TOP TARGET: Goal ace Jay Rodriquez is bound to attract attention during the transfer window.

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ANOTHER window of opportunity has opened for Eddie Howe, but the Burnley boss is keeping his cards close to his chest.

The rumour mill will once again be churning out speculative, and often tedious, player links as Howe looks to bolster his squad in preparation for a play-off surge. But he won’t be pressed into giving any clues over potential purchases in the January sales.

“It’s only right we keep details to ourselves at this stage,” said Howe. “We do have a couple of targets in mind but it is very difficult to sign good players. We’re competing probably with a number of other clubs but we’ll endeavour to do our best to improve the squad. The key thing is that we’ll only find players that will make the squad better. We’ve got most of our bodies back fit now so we have a very competitive squad.”

The Clarets boss found himself restricted in terms of dealings last year after taking charge at the helm at Turf Moor in mid-January, though Charlie Austin and Marvin Bartley were added to the ranks.

But since the culmination of the 2010/11 season, where the likes of Chris Iwelumo, Tyrone Mears, Chris Eagles, Danny Fox and Wade Elliott swopped allegiances, Howe has taken his transfer dealings into double figures during a difficult transitional period.

However, Howe believes that the nucleus of his squad is now in place which puts the club in a much stronger position to add to that. “We are in a much better place now than we were in the summer because we do have the majority of our squad,” he said. “Anyone that we do sign will just be adding to the quality that we already have so when you’re starting from a strong base already it puts you in a good position.”

Like it or not, there’s two sides to every coin flip and where players can come in, personnel can as easily be shipped out. The national media has already linked striker Jay Rodriguez with a multi-million pound move away from East Lancashire on numerous occasions, with several Championship and Premier League clubs reportedly expressing an interest in Burnley’s leading scorer.

But Howe isn’t prepared to sell his prized assets or disrupt his squad’s progression: “It’s massively important that we try to keep the squad intact. We do believe that we’ve got some very good players and we’ll be very keen to keep the squad together. It’s beginning to take shape with players getting to know each other so we don’t really want to disrupt that at this stage. Football being football you can’t tell what’s around the corner, but that’s our intention.”

It’s been somewhat of a tempestuous season to say the least at times for Howe with player comings and goings forcing an unpredictability in form and results. But the Burnley boss has weathered the storm and is now praying that his side’s voyage continues to gather momentum throughout the New Year.

“It’s been a difficult start but in some respects that didn’t surprise us,” he said.

“I think throughout the campaign we’ve slowly got better and better and hopefully we can carry that on into the second half.”

Howe added: “I can only look short term at the next few games. I think the pleasing thing from my point of view is that we ended the year in good form. We’ve gained some momentum and I’d like to think we can continue that into the New Year and see what happens.

“These games around the New Year are always important in interpreting how your overall season is going to look. We are still in that chasing group but the league is so tight our season could still go one of two ways and we’ve got to make sure that we continue to be progressive and improve performances all the time.”