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Aug 6, 2014

Jutkiewicz has big boots to fill

The FC crew previews Burnley's first campaign in the Premier League since the 2009-10 season.

With Danny Ings -- fitness permitting -- certain to start Burnley's opening game of the campaign at home against Chelsea, one of the only spots in the Clarets side that looks to be up for grabs is up front alongside the 22-year-old. After scoring five goals in five preseason friendlies, Lukas Jutkiewicz has muscled his way to the front of that queue, leaving Ashley Barnes and Marvin Sordell lagging behind.

Jutkiewicz has a lot to live up to, given that he appears to be the direct replacement for Sam Vokes, who was named player of the year last season after his 20 league goals helped fire the Clarets to promotion but who ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament in March.

Barnes stepped up in his absence and did a decent job as Burnley secured their return to the Premier League after four years away, but the Clarets were always going to need striking reinforcements. However, the club seems to have been priced out of a move for Watford's Troy Deeney, with the Hornets seeking at least 10 million pounds for him.

Jutkiewicz doesn't immediately appear to be in the same class as Deeney, but despite flopping at Middlesbrough, the physical forward has a strong pedigree with a solid goal ratio of one in three for a trio of clubs: Motherwell, Coventry City and Bolton Wanderers.

Burnley are Jutkiewicz's ninth club, and at the age of 25, it's fair to say he has found it tough to settle anywhere after a 2007 move from Swindon to Everton didn't work out. It would be unfair to label him a journeyman, although his myriad loan spells do provide something in common with Vokes.

- Premier League preview: Burnley
- Macintosh: How to avoid relegation

Like Jutkiewicz, Vokes spent short periods at a handful of clubs, never getting a chance to have a long run anywhere. Like Jutkiewicz, Vokes caught the eye with a spate of goals as a teenager in the lower leagues, but his career has stagnated a little in recent years.

Vokes had a tricky start to his time at Burnley, restricted to the odd cameo from the bench as the Clarets relied heavily on the goal-scoring prowess of Charlie Austin. But when Austin was sold to QPR on the eve of last season, the former Wolves man grasped his chance with both hands.

Jutkiewicz now has the opportunity to do exactly the same, as Vokes is not likely to be back to full fitness for a few months. Early signs have been good. Jutkiewicz scored a brace in his first appearance in claret and blue, followed that up with another goal at Preston and added two more -- and hit the post -- at Turf Moor against Celta Vigo on Tuesday night. Preseason might not mean an awful lot, but a handful of goals in friendlies last summer acted as a springboard for Ings to have his breakthrough year.

A common feature of Burnley's play last season was Vokes battling for -- and invariably winning -- targeted long passes from the back and springing rapid counterattacks. Jutkiewicz now looks set to be given that target man job, with Ings buzzing around him. Jutkiewicz is much more than just a big lump, though, as he has the cliché "good touch for a big man" and his confidence in front of goal could make him an ideal replacement for Vokes.

Jutkiewicz might not have been the striker Clarets fans yearned for this summer and did not arrive with a massive price tag and a reputation to match. However, he could turn out to be another rough diamond polished by Clarets manager Sean Dyche.

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