CHRIS FLANAGAN COLUMN: Fully fit Paterson key for Clarets
IT was a May night at the Madejski Stadium and the score stood at 0-0 as Martin Paterson picked the ball up on the halfway line.
Confidence flowing through his veins, Paterson cut in from the right and hammered the ball left footed into the net from 30 yards.
There was magic in the air that evening, and that single strike of the ball paved the way for one of the most memorable results in the Clarets ’ recent history.
Everyone remembers Wade Elliott’s winner in the play-off final at Wembley, but that Paterson goal in the semi final second leg at Reading was every bit as important.
Time flies. That was almost three-and-a-half years ago.
Elliott has since departed – as has Steven Thompson, the scorer of the second and no less spectacular goal at Reading that night. Paterson still remains, but having scored 19 goals during that promotion campaign he has netted only 11 times for the Clarets since, dogged by injuries. It is a great pity.
Burnley continued to ponder a move for a striker, now on loan after the closure of the transfer window. But they will not need one if they can somehow get Paterson fit to play week in week out.
Paterson was available on the opening day of the season against Bolton and immediately formed a promising partnership with Charlie Austin. Both scored that day, and there can be little doubt that both have the ability to find the net on a regular basis at this level.
But frustratingly for everyone, not least the player himself, Paterson suffered a hamstring injury and was only able to return to action for the second half against Brighton on Saturday.
This could be an important season for Paterson.
Players can come through niggling injury problems.
Ryan Giggs was blighted by muscle injuries midway through his career, when the clutch pedal of his car was said to have exacerbated the issue. Aided by yoga, he regained fitness and form.
Michael Owen, in contrast, seems to have struggled to do the same and it would be a real shame if Paterson’s woes were to continue down the same path. He is already in talks over a new deal with the Clarets and time will now tell if Burnley were right to turn down a number of offers from Portsmouth for the 25-year-old last summer.
If he is able to play regularly, they will be vindicated because Paterson’s quality is such that he will surely score goals.
But he must break free from injuries that could continue to hamper the explosive nature of his game.
If he does, Burnley may well have one of the most talented strike pairings in the Championship.
Without that goal threat, it could potentially be a long season.