Rodriguez out for Clarets

Posted Saturday, October 03, 2009 by PA

Burnley have lost yet another player for an extended period after Jay Rodriguez was ruled out for three months with a fractured ankle ahead of the Clarets' Barclays Premier League match against Birmingham on Saturday.

Striker Rodriguez becomes the third of Owen Coyle's players to be ruled out until Christmas in the last fortnight, with Martin Paterson and Chris McCann also both on the sidelines with knee injuries.

Fernando Guerro tweaked his hamstring and Kevin McDonald sustained a knee problem in a midweek reserve game, leaving both looking doubtful.

But club captain Steven Caldwell is in contention for a place in the starting line-up after playing for an hour in the same match.

Robbie Blake believes Burnley's home support could be what keeps the team in the Premier League this season.

The Clarets host Birmingham at Turf Moor on Saturday looking to maintain the 100% home record with which they have started the campaign.

Victories over Manchester United, Everton and Sunderland have left Burnley sitting comfortably in mid-table after seven Premier League games, where many had predicted they would struggle to take anything from a tricky opening sequence of fixtures.

Blake believes that the ever-reliable Turf Moor faithful have raised their game with the team and that their support will prove crucial in keeping Burnley away from the bottom of the league for the rest of the season.

"We have beaten some top teams and we want to keep that momentum going at home," Blake said. "The way we play and the fans give us a great opportunity to keep that run going. It's a hostile atmosphere and we thrive on that.

"Teams seem to go into their shell a little bit and hopefully that will continue on Saturday against Birmingham. At times there was only 12,000 here last year and it was a great atmosphere - now we have virtually double that, so it's double the noise and it's fantastic to be involved at a packed-out Turf Moor."

Birmingham are resigned to being without striker Christian Benitez for the trip.

Benitez is back home in Ecuador after being given compassionate leave after his father was injured in a car crash. Garry O'Connor is likely to deputise as the lone striker with Kevin Phillips on the bench.

Blues boss Alex McLeish is optimistic that Stuart Parnaby, Franck Queudrue and James McFadden will be available after injury, while Cameron Jerome should return from an ankle problem after the international break.

McLeish believes he will get the best out of veteran striker Phillips by continuing to use him as a super sub.

Phillips came off the bench to score a late goal against Bolton last weekend, although it ultimately proved in vain in a 2-1 defeat.

McLeish is almost certain to be without Benitez but he is still likely to persevere with Phillips on a bit-part basis.

He said: "Do I still see Phillips mainly as a substitute? I do. Let's make no bones about it. Kevin is 36 now and I want to see him strutting his stuff on the training ground as well and helping other players, and he has a part to play in that sense.

"I also want to see Kevin playing with a smile on his face as he did last week. He came on and was extremely bright and this week in training he was bright. I still see that as his most significant role, coming on and doing what he did last week."


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