AN injury blow for Martin Paterson has intensified Clarets boss Eddie Howe’s search for a striker.
Paterson came off an half-time in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Watford at Turf Moor with a thigh problem, and was withdrawn from the Northern Ireland squad to take on the Faroe Islands on Wednesday as a result.
He was due to undergo a scan today to ascertain the extent of the problem, but having already initially been ruled out of Tuesday night’s Carling Cup tie at home to Burton Albion with international commitments, he is also expected to miss Saturday’s trip to Crystal Palace.
Howe was in the hunt for another striker after selling Chris Iwelumo to Watford, and if Paterson is going to be out for any length of time, it would leave him with only Jay Rodriguez and Charlie Austin as senior frontmen.
Howe said this morning: “I’m not sure how long we’re going to lose Pato for, which is going to be a big blow at this stage of the season, so we’re just down to two fit strikers, so that’s something we may need to look at.
“He’d gone through pre-season without a problem, which makes it even more frustrating from his point of view and ours.
“I don’t think necessarily it’s a pull, but he’s having a scan today so we’ll know more then..
“It was just he wasn’t feeling right, he didn’t feel he had the strength to push off.
“He didn’t feel he would be doing the team justice to stay on, so fair play to him.
“Hopefully it’s just a little bit of tightness and nothing serious and we get him back as sson as possible because a fit Martin Paterson is as good as anything in the league.”
Howe tried to stop Alex MacDonald and Keith Treacy from joining up with Scotland Under 21s and the Republic of Ireland respectively, but will be without the pair on Tuesday night: “We made calls to Alex and Keith’s respective managers, but they have to go, and you have to respect international managers.”
Meanwhile, Howe is facing a balancing act to keep his goalkeepers happy.
Howe selected Lee Grant to start against Watford ahead of Brian Jensen, and admitted it was one of, if not the, most difficult selection decision he had to make.
Jensen had to settle for a place on the bench, and he faces a familiar battle - one he has won on countless occasions in his eight years at the club - to win back his place in the side.
He will hope to get a chance to stake his claim in the Carling Cup tomorrow night at home to Burton Albion, but Howe accepts whoever finds themselves on the sidelines may want to go out on loan to stay sharp.
He said: “It was a really tough call – probably the hardest decision I had to make.
“Both goalkeepers have pushed each other and while they’ve both been excellent, Beast, through no fault of his own, has found himself out of the team. I had to pick one.
“Granty hasn’t conceded a goal in pre-season and I said I’d pick the best goalkeeper.
“It was an incredibly difficult decision.”
Howe accepts both are more than capable Championship performers, and one may head out on loan - with the insurance of third choice keeper Jon Stewart: “Trying to keep them both happy is going to be difficult.
“Whoever I left out was going to be disappointed and probably say that they wanted to go out on loan to play because they’re both experienced goalkeepers and they’re both good enough to play in the Championship.
“So keeping them both happy is going to be difficult if not impossible, so we’ll have to look at what develops over the coming weeks.
“There’s a possibility of (a loan spell.”
The club have played down reports of a £4m offer from Southampton for Jay Rodriguez and Danny Fox.
Saturday’s Daily Mail ran with the story, but Burnley are yet to receive any such offer, and while Saints are believed to be interested in the pair, should any bid materialise, I understand it would be laughed off in any case.
The club would fight tooth and nail to hold onto the pair, and Howe would only say on Saturday: “I don’t know anything about it.
“It’s not ideal.”