October 16, 2014

Burnley will be searching out their first win of the season when they welcome West Ham United to Turf Moor on Saturday.

Four draws in their opening seven games have left Sean Dyche's Burnley (0-4-3) barely off the foot of the table - ahead of Queens Park Rangers only courtesy of a superior goal-difference, but with no wins on the board and only three goals scored, concerns are growing about the Clarets' chances of avoiding a return to the second tier.

Despite those doubts, Dyche believes the sensible nature of the Burnley board is likely to see him remain in charge - even if the Clarets are relegated.

"Nonsensical decisions are made all the time in football and then really sensible decisions are made all the time," Dyche said. "It really is the maddest business and everyone knows that. We all love it. But I think our journey is different to the norm and I mean this sincerely."

Burnley have the smallest budget and lowest wage bill in the Premier League, while the club's net transfer spend over the last five years is comfortably the lowest in the division, with only Tottenham Hotspur joining them in profit during that period. Compared to the huge financial injections seen at fellow promoted clubs Queens Park Rangers and Leicester City, Burnley have been extremely restrained with their use of the EPL cash.

But Dyche's aim is still to give Premier League survival a decent shot - even if the playing field is far from level.

"We were a surprise package last year, and are still a surprise package. We have spent £5m on eight, nine, 10 players. Even Leicester have spent £8m on one. But I must make it clear that I want to be competitive and I want the team to be competitive."

Visitors West Ham (3-1-3) are unlikely to roll over and hand Burnley their first win on a plate. Sam Allardyce's side have been inconsistent in the opening months of the season, but have done enough to pick up 10 points and find themselves above the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool in the table.

Impressive wins over QPR and Liverpool in recent weeks saw a change to a more fluid, less direct style of football from the Hammers, with Stewart Downing starring in a free creative role off the striker. However, the return to fitness of captain Kevin Nolan will give Allardyce a tough selection decision going into this contest.

"The sooner you get all your players fit the bigger decisions you have to make as a manager,"Allardyce said. "That puts you in a better position, even though those decisions are big ones, because you are going to start disappointing players on a more regular basis. The challenge for me is to make sure I pick the right team and formation in the game and how you are going to play against the opposition.

"When you have a full squad to choose from then you have to make big decisions and you have to disappoint people if they are all fit. That's what they have to accept."

A whole host of players are in line to join Nolan in returning from injury, with Carl Jenkinson (hamstring), James Collins (groin), Ricardo Vaz Te (hip) Guy Demel (hip) and Mark Noble (shin) all back in training. However, striker Andy Carroll remains out of action with an ankle injury.

Burnley also have a string of players facing late fitness tests after injury. Steven Reid (groin), Michael Keane (hamstring), Nathaniel Chalobah (illness), Dean Marney (hamstring), David Jones (hip) and Danny Ings (hamstring) could all possibly return, but Welsh forward Sam Vokes (knee) remains out.

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