As the New Year swings into action, when Burnley host Harry Redknapp's Queens Park Rangers this Saturday at Turf Moor, it alreadty feels like a key battle in the relegation stakes.
"Hopefully when I get my chance I'll take it"
- Sam Vokes
Sean Dyche's side have done well to right some of the expecation that, in not winning any of their first ten games back in the Premier League, they had already confined themselves back to the Championship for next season. All at Turf Moor know that the battle is still on, however, and none more so than striker Sam Vokes. He returned from injury in style to earn Burnley a replay against Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup this week, and Vokes is looking forward to giving his boss some more firepower: "Hopefully when I get my chance I'll try to take it. It's good for the team if all the strikers are scoring and there's competition," he said.
Competition for places - and indeed a side firing in the goals - is exactly what Dyche needs. Despite Burnley's improved performances, they still sit in the relegation zone after picking up 17 points from 20 games. Games against the side's around you are, of course, vital, and this one is no different. Dyche will be hoping he can take all three points when his side host QPR this Saturday.
"We tried something different, it didn't work"
- Harry Redknapp
For the visitors, it as been a rough week. QPR were soudly dispatched 3-0 in the FA Cup by League One outfit Sheffield United, and manager Redknapp has called for his side to bounce back this weekend, admitting that he made a lot of changes: "I made a lot of changes, we tried something different, it didn't work," he said. "It's not a case of getting a response, they've been excellent, we've had a good run. I wouldn't blame the lads who came in, we tried something different. It's history now, that one, and we look forward to Burnley."
Redknapp will be sure to prioritise remaining in the Premier League this seaosn, and has a battle on his hands to do so. His side have not won away from home all campaign, and sit 16th - just two points clear of the safety zone - which includes their opponents Burnley on Saturday. Redknapp will look again to in-form striker Charlie Austin, whose 12 goals this season are arguably the only thing keeping QPR afloat.
Burnley continue to have fitness doubts over midfielder David Jones, who missed the draw with Spurs through illness, as well as Michael Duff (calf) and Matt Taylor (Achilles).
QPR are still without Sandro (knee) and Yun Suk-young (ankle), and will look to former Burnley striker Charlie Austin to provide their major goal threat.