CLARETS boss Eddie Howe has received good news regarding injured forward Danny Ings – but still hopes to sign a short-term replacement.
Ings suffered knee cartilage damage in Burnley’s final pre-season game at Rochdale just over four weeks ago, and was expected to be out for between three to six months.
After successful surgery on Tuesday, the former Bournemouth man is expected to return sooner – a timely boost on the back of three successive league defeats.
Martin Paterson is also nearing full fitness again, after playing 45 minutes in Saturday’s 3-1 loss at home to Brighton, following a hamstring tear sustained in the opening day win over Bolton.
In the meantime, as the loan window reopens in the Football League, Howe has been linked with a move for Sunderland’s England Under-21 striker Connor Wickham, but while I understand the 19-year-old is on a list of targets, he would prefer to bring in a different type of forward, similar to Ings, more in the mould of a number 10 than a typical centre forward – of which he already boasts Charlie Austin and Sam Vokes.
Howe will keep tabs on his situation – with Martin O’Neill willing to let the former Ipswich man out to play first team football after the signings of former Claret Steven Fletcher and Louis Saha.
Burnley are thought to be leading the chase for the £8m teenager, with a host of Championship clubs keen.
Former club Ipswich, who have first refusal on a loan, are believed to have baulked at paying a high percentage of his wages.
Howe said of Ings: “It’s very good news, I’m really pleased, it’s great for us and Danny.
“We can now hopefully get him back fit and firing sooner rather than later.
“He was looking good in pre-season, so it was a big blow, but we’re expecting he will be back in three months, and if it’s any sooner, that’s a bonus.
“It was a minute tear which was repaired in his knee, hence his rehabilitation will be significantly shorter.”
On signing last August, Ings suffered an injury to his other knee that ruled him out until August, but he ended the season with three goals in his first nine starts, and was also in goalscoring form in pre-season.”
Ings was expected to play a key role going into the season, playing off a front man, having featured as both a deep-lying forward and attacking midfielder in pre-season, and while Howe would like that type in on loan, he has options within his squad.
Cameron Stewart landed on deadline day on loan from Hull until January, and can play on either flank or through the middle, while Cameron Howieson is back after a break following his exertions over the summer, earning his first full New Zealand cap, and representing the Oly Whites at the Olympics.
Howe said: “Cameron Stewart can play there, he is predominantly a wide player but has played up front for Hull, and one of the reasons we brought him in was his versatility.
“Cameron Howieson is also back in training with us and has looked really good after his summer with New Zealand.
“He is one of a couple of young lads knocking on the door, along with Stevie Hewitt and Shay McCartan - we certainly want to promote and push our young players.”
And Howe hopes Paterson will be up to speed by the time pointless Peterborough United make the trip to Turf Moor a week tomorrow.
Burnley are unbeaten in Paterson’s last 11 starts, winning seven - showing his importance to the side when fit.
He withdrew from the Northern Ireland suad that starts their World Cup qualifying campaign in Moscow against Fabio Capello’s Russia tonight, but he could feature in Tuesday’s home clash with Luxembourg.
Howe explained: “It was great to see Pato back on Saturday, but I think it was wise he didn’t go to Russia with the travelling and all that entails.
“We’re trying to keep him fit and fresh - that’s his and our priority, and it gives him a longer period to get himself right.
“Tuesday will depend on how he feels really, he had a fitness test before Saturday’s game against Brighton and went on the bench, without any training behind him, and hopefully he will be up to speed now.”
Howe, on top of the Wickham link, also attracted speculation after being spotted on LFC TV talking to Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool’s Under 21 Premier League fixture with Manchester City at Melwood, but he smiled: “I was trying to keep a low profile! But we’re always at games, I was just taking a game in.”