New striker is top priority for Burnley boss Howe

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CLARETS boss Eddie Howe hopes the record sale of striker Jay Rodriguez will kickstart his own transfer plans.

Rodriguez completed his expected £7m move to Southampton on Sunday evening, signing a four-year deal at St Mary’s after a protracted chase for the 22-year-old, going back 12 months.

And while sorry to see the 21-goal top-scorer depart, Howe at least can focus on bringing players into the club, having avoided the uncertainty that blighted last summer, with the last-gasp sales of Chris Eagles, Tyrone Mears and Danny Fox.

Howe said: “From my point of view, we’ve had the players we want to bring into the football club lined up and ready to go.

“Hopefully this deal will allow us to move on those.”

While well-stocked in the forward areas despite the sale of Rodriguez, with Charlie Austin, Danny Ings and Martin Paterson on the books, as well as Zavon Hines, who will return for pre-season after ending the season on loan at Bournemouth, Howe would like to bring another frontman in, and has already been linked with a move for Bristol City’s Brett Pitman, who he worked with at Bournemouth.

He explained: “With Danny Ings, Charlie Austin and Martin Paterson, we have three very good centre-forwards left at the club.

“Hopefully all three lads will report back fit and ready to go for the new season, and hopefully we can add one more.

“We believe your team is only as good as your strikers, and we’re aware that it’s such an important area of the team and we will be looking to bring one in.

“With the three main first-team strikers I think we are very strong, but we are looking at adding to those three and maybe adding something different.”

Howe is unlikely to see most of the fee for Rodriguez, bearing in mind the drop in parachute payments and the £4m shortfall in the last financial year.

However, he will get some of it to help bolster his squad, and he is already looking to close in on long-term target, Derby centre back Jason Shackell.

He said: “It won’t be millions and millions, but it will be a percentage and we will have to spend it wisely.

“Some will have to go back into the accounts to make sure the club is strong for years to come.”

The timing of Rodriguez’s sale – and the fact the club were braced for such an event – means Howe has more time to draw up his plans.

He added: “Jay performed consistently well for two seasons.

“When you take into consideration his age, his ability and the potential the lad’s got it was inevitable.

“He was admired by several clubs so it wasn’t a shock for us.

“We’ve had time to do the work we need to do to try to improve the squad.”