DESPITE being down on numbers due to international squad call-ups and Danny Ings’ injury (more on that later) Burnley are comfortably through to the second round of the Capital One Cup in a match that was more of a tester than summer’s friendlies - and now the main event is looming.
It’s been looming ever since the Championship fixture list brought forward ex-boss Owen Coyle’s Bolton, newly relegated from the Premiership, as the first opponents of the season at Turf Moor.
Burnley have a point to prove on Saturday, so in what sort of shape are they to tackle it, and deal with one looks likely to be one of the toughest Championship campaigns they have faced?
All last season I lamented the lack of a defensive rock. Having failed to land him 12 months ago, this time around Jason Shackell will begin the season as a Burnley player, and has also been given the captaincy. I jumped for joy.
Rather than frustrating him, I hope this will free Chris McCann from responsibilities that seemed to hamper him last time out, and his goal against Port Vale in the Capital One Cup served notice that perhaps the old pre-injury Chris is raring to go.
Manager Eddie Howe has also added to defensive depth with Luke O’Neill and Joseph Mills signed with an eye on the future but also to push Keiran Trippier and Danny Lafferty for the first team shirts.
Midfield was mainly a worry in terms of how Howe set up his team last year. If he can meld McCann and Marvin Bartley at his best with the Dean Marney of last season and Ross Wallace at the top of his capabilities (must improve on last term), they can do the job but will have to dominate more than last season.
Despite the departure of Jay Rodriguez most Clarets fans were happy enough, especially when Sam Vokes, who teamed up well with Charlie Austin on loan last season, was captured from Wolves.
But with Danny Ings set to be a spearhead it has undoubtedly been a setback that he will be sidelined with a second serious injury in two campaigns. With Martin Paterson and Austin both suffering spells out with injury in the last two seasons, Burnley could find themselves short of firepower if injuries go against them.
Still, we have a ghost to exorcise on Saturday, so bring it on!