Belfast Telegraph

Vokes ready for Leicester challenge

Striker Sam Vokes admits Burnley are facing the biggest challenge of what remains of their season when fellow strugglers Leicester visit Turf Moor next weekend.

A 1-0 defeat at Everton on Saturday, courtesy of a 29th-minute Kevin Mirallas goal, coupled with the Foxes' third successive victory dropped the Clarets to the bottom of the table.

They are still only two points from safety, albeit with an inferior goal difference to all their rivals, but if they are to stand any chance of surviving they have to get something out of Saturday's game.

What is most frustrating for Sean Dyche and his players is they are playing well without doing their jobs at either end of the pitch: Burnley have not scored for six hours and 29 minutes and have kept just two clean sheets in their last 17 league matches.

"There are going to be a lot of ups and downs between now and the end of the season," said Vokes.

"But we have some big games coming up and we have to show what we did against Everton is encouraging and we can take it into the next games.

"Leicester is massive, we knew that. We have five big ones starting against Leicester next week and there is no bigger challenge."

The dismissal of Ashley Barnes for two bookable offences - the first for a late tackle he did not even land on his opponent - just before half-time not only cost Burnley the chance of a point at Goodison Park but also ruled the midfielder out of next week's match.

But even after taking only six points from their last 12 matches defender Ben Mee insists morale has not taken a blow.

"It is a bit frustrating but we didn't help ourselves," he said of Barnes's red card.

"The mood is always good and it will be going into this run of games.

"It is a big game next week but it is a game of football and we are all positive in that dressing room and we are all confident we can go and win it.

"We have shown what we are about with the attitude we have."

Aside from the sending-off and Mirallas's goal, which he needed two attempts at after mis-kicking James McCarthy's cross, the only other real talking point was Everton's failure from the penalty spot again.

David Jones's tackle on Aaron Lennon appeared to be just outside the area but referee Mike Jones ruled otherwise. Instead of opting for Leighton Baines, who has scored 15 out of 16, Ross Barkley stepped forward and saw his effort saved by Tom Heaton.

McCarthy side-footed wide a glorious second-half chance to put the game to bed and Everton's finish to the game was a reflection of their season - disappointing.

However, goalkeeper Tim Howard insisted no-one within the camp was coasting towards the end of the campaign because there is nothing to play for.

"We were resilient again without playing great. We got the goal and they went a man down so if we had got the second one it would have been easier for us but they kept going," he said.

"We are trying to push ourselves to the top half of the table and get into a position where we can finish the season where it feels like it is manageable and we can stomach it.

"Right now it hasn't been good enough all season so hopefully we can get to the top half of the table and feel good about ourselves.

"We have a good bunch of guys, no-one is taking a day off because it is not that type of club.

"Results haven't been what we would have liked but once this season has finished there is no looking back, we go forward.

"We are trying to finish strong because we deserve to do that when we put the right effort in."


From Belfast Telegraph