Early team news for tomorrow

Last updated : 18 January 2002 By Tony Scholes

In fact even if Blake signs it is unlikely that he would be fit to play. He picked up a stomach strain a week last Tuesday in their FA Cup tie at Walsall and the Bradford City manager Nicky Law said at the time that he expected him to be out three weeks.

Blake will be cup tied next week after playing in that tie and so will come into the reckoning, should he sign, for our next league game at home to West Brom two weeks on Sunday in front of the ITV Sport cameras and a TV audience of a few hundred.

Gareth Taylor scores our first goal of the season at Hillsborough
There is good news though and that's the return to fitness of Gareth Taylor well ahead of schedule. Stan said after Taylor picked up the injury against Canvey Island that he expected him to be out about three weeks so to have him back after missing just one game is a bonus.

We will still be without all the other injured players in Steve Davis, Mitchell Thomas, Glen Little, Lenny Johnrose and Andy Payton and it is possible that Dimitri Papadopoulos could be out of the reckoning having picked up an injury at Palace. Nothing has been said on that one but it did look at the time as if he was coming off injured or not.

I would expect Taylor to come straight back into the side and that will mean reverting to our more favoured 4-4-2 system. Who drops out though? I think it will be between Paul Cook and Graham Branch. Should it be Branch then Lee Briscoe will revert to full back where he has mainly been playing recently.

I think it will be Branchy who misses out and that would give us a starting line up of: Nik Michopoulos, Ian Cox, Arthur Gnohere, Lee Briscoe, Kevin Ball, Tony Grant, Paul Cook, Alan Moore, Ian Moore, Gareth Taylor. The subs would then be from Luigi Cennamo, Gordon Armstrong, Brad Maylett, Graham Branch, Dimitri Papadopoulos and Tony Ellis.

Wednesday struggling near the bottom of the league also have injury problems with some of them having been out for some time. They are still without Ian Hendon, Michele di Piedi and Phil Scott and Andy Hinchcliffe is now added to that list. Hinchcliffe returned from injury last week but lasted just 17 minutes. He now requires an operation and is out for the rest of the season.

They do have some good news with Trond Egil Soldvedt returning after suspension and new signing Shefki Kuqi will be making his second Turf Moor appearance in just over a month. His last appearance at the Turf coincided with the Clarets' last league victory, the 3-2 win against Stockport.

Kuqi will partner Ekoku up front in a commentator's nightmare in a game that is one of the three featured games on ITV Sport's Football First. Supposed Burnley target Gerald Sibon, who scored the winner last Saturday against Crewe, will once again line up in midfield, for me his best position.

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