Crystal Palace travel to Burnley this weekend knowing that a victory would represent a giant step towards securing their Premier League safety for another season but the Clarets are all set to welcome back Ashley Westwood into their midfield, after he missed their recent defeat to Newcastle with a sickness bug.
The 28-year-old may not be a name that leaps off the page to many neutrals but he’s been in fine form for Sean Dyche’s men since the turn of the year and was a key factor in the side going on an eight-game unbeaten run prior to their defeat at the hands of Rafa Benitez’s resurgent Newcastle on Tuesday.
Westwood was arguably Burnley’s best midfielder in their 2-1 win over Tottenham at Turf Moor last weekend, pressing the Champions League chasers well for the full 90 minutes as they secured a massive three points. A known grafter, he’s popped up with assists here and there too, acting as a genuine driving force in the middle of the park, with his return to the side sure to lift both his teammates and the club’s supporters as they welcome Roy Hodgson and co. on Saturday afternoon.
You could argue that 19-year-old Dwight McNeil and highly-regarded defender James Tarkowski have been the two outstanding performers for Burnley over the last couple of months but without players like Westwood in the engine room, it’s fair to say that the aforementioned duo’s talents wouldn’t be anywhere near as easily recognisable. You only need to look at the drop in performance they suffered without him at St James’ Park to get a measure of his role within the group.
Let’s hope he is far from at his best by the time the game gets going tomorrow.