Only four wins will do now - Burnley boss Howe

Eddie Howe

Eddie Howe

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CLARETS boss Eddie Howe insists the play-offs remain a distant hope, despite his side moving to within six points of sixth place Cardiff with 12 points to play for.

Relegated-threatened Coventry City are the visitors to Turf Moor tomorrow, and Howe feels Burnley may have to win all four remaining games to threaten the top six.

Burnley are ending the season with some momentum, after three wins in four, but Howe believes they will have to extend that run to six victories on the spin to even be in with a chance of catching their rivals.

He said: “It’s funny how it goes.

“You look at us two games ago, and now we’ve gone on a good run.

“With such a small squad that’s been very pleasing.

“I think the lads have really responded to the challenge in front of them.

“We went through a really bad run and it’s cost us.

“Now we’ve had some good results we can only affect what’s in front of us, and hopefully we can end the season on a high.

“There are other sides who are struggling to put wins together and struggling for results.

“It’s that time of year when you really want to be going into the end of the season on a high.

“We certainly want to end on a high.

“I do think it’s going to be tough for us to get in the play-offs now.

“Not only are we relying on other people, we’ve got to win the four games ourselves.”

The Clarets have 17 wins so far this season – a statistic only the top five, Reading, Southampton, West Ham, Birmingham and Blackpool – can better.

But 10 of those victories have come away from home, and he would like to top up the wins column in front of their own supporters.

Howe said: “There’s always a great deal to play for in our eyes. Every game’s a big game.

“We need to get our home form right for next year, so the next two games at home are very important to us.

“Then we’ve got two great games away from home – two tough ones – but two attractive games at this stage of the season.

“But the way that we’ve played at home, the West Ham and Brighton games in particular, we were pleased with those two performances.

“Hopefully we can match those two.”

Howe will again be without Jay Rodriguez (groin), Martin Paterson (hamstring) and Ben Mee (back) through injury, and all three may have played their last games of the season.

Howe said: “Jay’s not far away. He’s working hard. It’s the type of injury we need to make sure he’s not getting niggles.

“He played at Ipswich when he perhaps shouldn’t have done. He pushed himself when we weren’t aware that he was still feeling the injury.

“Hopefully we’ll see him before the end of the season, but we can’t guarantee that.

“With Pato, it’s just a little niggly one. With his recent history I don’t think we’ll take any chances with him.

“I don’t think we’ll see him before the end of the season.

“We just need to make sure he looks after himself over the summer and gets himself right for next year.

“With Ben, there’s a been a slight improvement in his back but it’s slow, we just have to wait for it to settle down.”

Danny Lafferty scored in the reserves’ 2-1 defeat at Tranmere on Wednesday night, but he is building up his fitness again after a hamstring problem.

Howe said: “Daniel came to us without doing a pre-season because it was Derry’s close season.

“We needed to build him up, then he got a slight hamstring strain which set him back a couple of weeks.

“Now he’s back in and around it, I don’t think he’s 100% yet, so we’ll have to be careful with him and not push him too far because he hasn’t had that pre-season behind him, which will be invaluable to him.

“He may well feature before the end of the season, but he’s not 100% ready to play.”

Meanwhile, there is no news regarding contracts to players whose current deals run out in the summer – or with a year to run, such as Rodriguez and skipper Chris McCann.

But Howe hopes to seal deals for more of the successful youth team as soon as possible: “We’re in the process of finalising a few of the other players. We do have a good group and we’d like to see them all tied down to contracts then we can get working them, coaching them and improving them.”