Burnley boss Howe vows to land targets

CLARETS INTEREST: Portsmouth's Joel Ward

CLARETS INTEREST: Portsmouth's Joel Ward

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CLARETS boss Eddie Howe is confident he can land the players on his summer wish-list.

Howe has so far been linked with moves for Leeds United midfielder Adam Clayton and Portsmouth utility man Joel Ward – and there is genuine interest in the pair.

He has also had an initial offer for Mansfield Town right-back Luke O’Neill turned down by the Stags.

But as he looks to bolster his squad to build on last season’s 13th-place finish in the Championship, despite financial constraints brought on by the drop in parachute payments and the imminent implementation of the financial fair play ruling, Howe believes he can box clever in the transfer market and get who he feels will improve not only the squad, but the first team.

He said: “Not a lot has happened yet in terms of ins or outs, but we have our targets, we know who we want, and it’s a case of waiting for things to unfold.

“I think every manager up and down the country will be saying they want their business done early, and I’m no different.

“But the reality is sometimes deals take longer than you first anticipated, so we’re keen to get on with it, knowing we’re waiting on certain things.

“I’m confident we can get who we’ve identified and who we want.

“We’re just waiting for things to unravel.”

Howe doesn’t have a set number of players he wants to bring in, but knows the areas he would like to improve.

He said: “We know the key positions we want to strengthen, and numbers can change depending on certain things.

“We know the targets, so we’ll see.

“If you miss out on a target, you work your way down your list, which isn’t ideal, because you want the ones you feel will make a big difference.

“The league is all about quality and you want the players that can make that difference.

“But they are in high demand and coveted by a lot of clubs.

“We’ll endeavour to get the ones we feel will make a big difference to our starting XI.”

However, he is bracing himself for the possible departure of 21-goal top-scorer Jay Rodriguez, for whom the phone is hotting up.

The club have received a few calls for the 22-year-old, and while I understand they are unlikely to haul in the £8m they want for the homegrown hero, a deal is moving closer, with a host of Premier League clubs interested.

Fulham set the ball rolling with a £5m move which was turned down, and Rodriguez is also interesting promoted Reading and Southampton, as well as Newcastle, Norwich and Everton.

And Howe could also have to fend off interest in captain Chris McCann from Swansea City.

Brendan Rodgers is an admirer of the 24-year-old Dubliner, who last week had a clause in his contract activated to extend his deal to next summer after starting 45 Championship games.

The Welsh club are believed to be weighing up a £2m move, while also looking to land loan star Gylfi Sigurdsson from Hoffenheim.