Burnley have fitness concerns over both first choice centre-backs and it seems as though manager Owen Coyle will be forced into shuffling his pack.

Clarke Carlisle and Steven Caldwell, at fault for a goal apiece in the weekend defeat to Wolves, both picked up injuries at Molineux and will face late fitness tests ahead of the Boxing Day clash between two struggling Lancashire sides.

But Burnley are boosted by the news that a fee of £300,000 has been agreed with Newcastle United for defender David Edgar. If the conspiracy theorists are right and Coyle has been keeping Edgar out of the team to ensure the fee stayed low, the timing could not be better and Edgar could slot straight into the team for a first league appearance in a Claret shirt.

However, it is perhaps more likely that Coyle will drop Andre Bikey back into the back four and hand Michael Duff a rare start alongside him. That move would mean a recall for Robbie Blake, Joey Gudjonsson or David Nugent, with fans clamouring for a change after the lacklustre display on Sunday in the Midlands. A third injured defender from that game, Tyrone Mears, is expected to play despite a knock to the head.

Coyle could well change the shape to a more traditional 4-4-2 and give Nugent a chance to impress alongside Steven Fletcher although the Scot may instead choose to stick with what he knows with the 4-5-1 shape.

Bolton are without England under-21 man Fabrice Muamba as the midfielder is suspended. Gavin McCann is also out for Wanderers with an ankle injury leaving Wanderers short of quality in the middle of the park.

Former Claret Gary Cahill will line-up in the heart of the visitors’ defence with rumours linking him with a big-money move away from the Reebok in January. Cahill, with four league goals, is Bolton’s joint top scorer this season, emphasising their danger from set pieces. In contrast, Burnley are the only Premier League side to have not yet scored from a corner this season.

Ivan Klasnic will be the other man to watch – the Croatian has five goals so far, matching the tallies of both Fletcher and Graham Alexander.

The teams haven’t met in nine years and Bolton have the better record in the sides’ meetings in modern times, with no defeats in their last three trips to Turf Moor.

However the visitors are without a clean sheet all season so the Clarets will fancy their chances of getting on the scoresheet, as they have for every home game so far this campaign. The first goal will be crucial with Burnley losing all six games in which they have trailed at the break and the hosts are without a win in several games, with their last three home games all resulting in draws.

Bolton find themselves in the relegation zone after a difficult start to the season. Chairman Phil Gartside  famously recommended Coyle to Burnley and it would be ironic if a Burnley win was to cost Bolton boss Gary Megson his job. Gartside is certain to be interested in Coyle if and when Megson leaves the Reebok.

Despite patchy recent form Burnley will be confident of returning to winning ways and despatching their local rivals deeper into the relegation mire.

A high tempo start could mean Burnley overrun a Bolton side that has struggled defensively all season, while Bolton’s long-ball game should suit whichever defenders Burnley have available.

Prediction: Burnley 3-1 Bolton.

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