HAD things been different, Sam Vokes may have been lining up for Burnley against Brighton today at Turf Moor (kick-off 3 p.m.).
As it is, he will be in opposition, but the on-loan Wolves striker remains a transfer target for the Clarets.
Assistant boss Jason Tindall expects competition to be fierce over the summer for the 22-year-old Wales international, who scored twice in nine appearances with Burnley between November and January.
Eddie Howe wanted to extend Vokes’ stay at Turf Moor, but he was recalled by then-Wolves boss Mick McCarthy, and subsequently loan back out to Brighton, where he has three goals in 11 appearances, and Tindall said of the former Bournemouth frontman: “Vokesy was great while he was on loan here. It was a shame that he went back to Wolves at the time and then moved on to Brighton.
“Hopefully he won’t do as well today.
“We’re aware of his strengths and hopefully we’ll be able to combat those and put on a good performance ourselves, and hopefully not let him score.”
Burnbley were disappointed not to lure the 6ft 2ins forward back to the club in January: “We were keen to take him back on loan at the time, but it wasn’t that we couldn’t give him the games that he wanted to play, it was because Wolves didn’t want him to go back out on loan at the time.
“They either wanted to keep him around there squad or maybe allow him to make a permanent move.
“As time went on, their decision changed, but by then we were in a different position because we’d got Josh McQuoid on loan and it made it difficult to be bring Sam back because of finances.
“He went to Brighton and he’s done very well there, scored a few goals, and helped them get them into the play-offs positions.”
As regards Vokes’ future, Tindall added: “We’re always interested in good players and Sam’s a good player.
“There’s no question about it. We know him very well from his Bournemouth days and obviously we’ve monitored him while he’s been at Wolves.
“When he was here on loan he was terrific for us, and he’s a smashing lad.
“We’re always interested in good players, and that’s what Sam is.”
Asked whether there is there a chance of signing him in the summer, Tindall said: “I think it’s too early to say.
“You have to look at Wolves’ current situation. If they are unfortunate enough to get relegated they might see Sam as a big player for them next season.
“Also there’s the likes of Brighton, and I’m sure other admirers for him.
“It then puts us in a market where we’re competing with clubs that are difficult for us to compete with.
“We’re always interested in good players if they’re available.
“If Sam was available I’m sure we’d keep a close eye on him.”
Ben Mee will have a late fitness test after a back spasm forced him out fo Tuesday’s 3-1 defeat at home to Birmingham, while Dean Marney, who came off with a head injury just before the hour at Turf Moor, is expected to be available.
Tindall doesn’t expect a similar game to the one at Breighton in December, where the hosts lost 1-0 after being reduced to nine men after only 10 minutes.
He said: “You certainly don’t expect a team to get two players sent off so early into a game.
“I felt they did great, even with nine men, the way they organised themselves and went about playing with nine men.
“They had a few chances on the day and full credit for performing the way they did with nine players,
“It was unfortunate for Brighton. But I wouldn’t say it would add any more spice to the game because of what happened there.
“They’re coming here to try to win the game as much as we are.”
Brighton boss Gus Poyet was fuming on the day at the Amex Stadium back in December, and he looked back: “For me as a manager, I’ve been in this job for a bit more than two years and that was one of my best games without any doubt.
“There were things we knew we were capable of doing in training but to confirm it on the pitch was exceptional.
“I think it was the best performance of the season. Funnily enough we lost.
“But in terms of performance, understanding, effort, commitment, organisation we had everything.”