Eddie Howe happy with strength of Burnley FC squad

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CLARETS boss Eddie Howe is more than happy with the strength and depth of his squad going into the final nine games of the season.

Yesterday was the final chance to bolster the ranks, with the emergency loan window closing at 5 p.m.

And while Howe managed to snap up Everton defender Shane Duffy on loan, he has no qualms about attacking the play-off places with the players he already has at his disposal.

Howe said: “We’re still looking, even now, just before the deadline, but there are so many hurdles you have to go through to sign players.

“We’re looking at one or two, but if nothing happens, I’m very happy to go with what we’ve got between now and the end of the season.

“We’ve looked at one or two areas, but it’s been difficult for one reason or another to get any deals over the line.

“If we don’t get any movement, we’ve also got players coming back from injury, and we’ve a strong squad.”

Burnley’s forward options have been thin on the ground, with Steven Thompson, Martin Paterson and Charlie Austin all injured, leading to a loan move for Aston Villa’s Nathan Delfouneso, until the end of the season.

Howe was also linked with West Ham’s 22-year-old forward Zavon Hines on Wednesday, and I understand that a deal was close, but fell through.

However, Howe was reluctant to bring players in for the sake of an extra body, unless he could improve on what he has.

He said: “The important thing is improving the squad. I won’t just bring players in for the sake of it, it’s a case of finding players that will improve the squad.”

And there could be a timely boost with a number of players close to returning from injury.

It was feared striker Steven Thompson could miss the rest of the season after groin surgery, but he has made a rapid recovery.

Howe said: “Thommo isn’t far away, and Martin Paterson is also making good progress, although we’re not sure when he will be back.

“We thought Thommo could be out for the rest of the season, but he’s surprised everyone with how quickly he has recovered, and he’s close to joining in again – hopefully he could train next week.

“How quickly he would be available to play is a difficult question as he has missed a bit of football, but we would be really pleased to get him involved again.”

Chris McCann could also feature in the reserve game at Turf Moor against Oldham on Tuesday, while Dean Marney’s knee problem is easing, after missing out on the 2-0 defeat at Bristol City on Saturday.

“Chris McCann is also close, as well as Dean.

“Chris has done really well, he’s improving all the time in terms of fitness.

“But he has to feel confident in himself to play, and we’ll assess it nearer the time, but the signs are really positive.

“He’s missed an awful lot of football, and he has to feel confident he can go out there and do himself justice, but we’ve been very impressed with him in training.”

Meanwhile, Howe will be hoping his internationals return unscathed.

Jack Cork and Delfouneso are with England Under-21s, who played Denmark in Viborg last night, and return to the country to take on Iceland at Deepdale on Monday night.

Jay Rodriguez is on stand-by for the game at Preston.

David Edgar is with the Canada squad for a friendly against Belarus to be played on Tuesday in Turkey.

Tickets for the match against at Deepdale are still available priced at £10 for adults and £5 for children and are available from the ticket office, over the phone on 0844 856 1966, and online at www.mypne.com.