CLARETS boss Eddie Howe is not surprised striker Martin Paterson is attracting interest in the Championship.
But he is looking forward to seeing him terrorising defences in a Burnley shirt this season.
The club have rebuffed two offers from Portsmouth for the 24-year-old, thought to be in the region of £1.5m.
It says a lot about the player that, even though he hasn’t started a first team game since November, with a recurring thigh problem - and, indeed, has made only 40 appearances in two seasons - that he still has a number of admirers.
But Howe is not looking to cash in on the former Stoke and Scunthorpe forward, who cost the club an initial £1m three years ago.
He said: “We have very good young strikers and it doesn’t surprise me that there is interest.
“It speaks volumes about Pato that he still attracts interest despite being out injured for a while.
“But I don’t want to lose anyone - you want to keep your best players - and I would like some new signings to complement them.
“It will be a huge boost to have him back, and as I’ve said before, Pato, Charlie (Austin) and Chris (McCann) will be like three new signings.”
Paterson will be desperate to get back up and running after two frustrating campaigns, and his attitude is a big bonus: “Pato has an infectious character, the type you want in any team, he’s hungry, wants to win things and is desperate to play.
“You hope that enthusiasm rubs off on the other players, and I’m very keen to see him playing again and hopefully scoring goals.
“A fit Martin Paterson can only benefit us.”
While Paterson, Austin and McCann would be like new acquisitions after their injury problems, Howe remains on the lookout for new faces.
Before last week, half the Championship had yet to make a signing, and the competitive nature of the league was summed up by Rangers boss Ally McCoist’s admission that the Scottish champions can’t match Championship wages.
Director of football Gordon Smith said: “I’m very aware of salaries at Premiership level but the thing about it is that it’s all changed to a degree in that Championship level salaries have also rocketed.
“The clubs coming down from the Premier League into the Championship are keeping their wage structures going. And clubs are getting new owners and deciding to try and compete to get into the Premier League because they know there is big money there.”
Howe said: “In the Championship you’re in competition for all the best players, and there is a lot of money in the division now.
“Clubs are paying big wages and fees and trying to compete is difficult, you have to be smart and try and pick very carefully.”
Howe is loathe to lean too heavily on the loan market, but could be drawn into it: “That’s an area we will look at.
“I’ve been reluctant to go down the route of the loan market, but you can have success from it.
“We’ll see what is available, but that will be late on when managers have made their decisions on who will be in their squads.”