Laws' player hokey-cokey will decide our fate

LAST week saw the revolving door in operation at high speed as Brian Laws got to work before Monday's transfer deadline ran out.

Back in came David Nugent, now available until the end of the season as Portsmouth try to sort themselves out, while defender Leon Cort, goalkeeper Nicky Weaver (who I'd somehow thought of as a veteran but it appears is only 30), young Chelsea midfielder Jack Cork and Celtic defender Danny Fox from Celtic, also arrived to join on-loan French under 21 international striker Frederic Nimani at Turf Moor.

Out on loan have gone full back Brian Easton, back to Hamilton Academicals, Jay Rodriguez, has gone out to Barnsley for a month, which should help him regain match fitness following a lengthy injury, and goalkeeper Jonathan Lund, further down the pecking order following Weaver's arrival, has joined Rotherham, also for an initial month.

The signings have sparked the usual debate about whether the Clarets are strengthening for the relegation battle or preparing a Championship level side, but Cort, a 1.5 million capture, impressed well enough against Premiership pacesetters Chelsea last Saturday.

The past week has certainly seen Laws stamp his imprint on the club while retaining the quality players Owen Coyle had brought in. I am pleased the squad has been kept intact as a key series of fixtures unfolds.

Burnley acquitted themselves much better against Chelsea, under the full glare of both the floodlights and tabloid revelations about John Terry, than they had against Bolton or, in the cup, Reading.

Saturday and West Ham's visit provides the first real acid test of the relegation battle. It is one of the games that has become simply "must win."

The skill and spirit on show against Chelsea showed Burnley may be down but are far from out. Heads were very much still up.

But from West Ham onwards there are the key games outlined in last week's column, and Laws must galvanise his team to turn his team's assets into points.

- IT isn't often that Alastair Campbell and light relief are mentioned in the same sentence.

He was last seen giving evidence in the Iraq inquiry, and subjects for discussion don't come any heavier or more serious than that.

Like him or loathe him, Campbell's Claret credentials are genuine and when in the eye of yet another political storm I often suspected that following Burnley football club may have been his escape hatch, allowing his thoughts to wander from Tony Blair to that other leader of men, Stan Ternent.

I wonder if he ever told the then PM or assembled press pack that a blind man on a galloping horse could see something.

He has also been cultivating his novel writing skills, it appears, and Maya, a tale of celebrity fame, hits the bookstands next month.

Should it become a racy bestseller, readers will be drip-fed the Wembley play-off final squad, who provide character names for his creations. Hence, Carlisle, Blake, McCann, Jensen, Paterson, Eagles, Elliott (of course) and even a Gudjonsson and a Kalvanes are all in there somewhere.

He admits to also having a Coyle in the text, but something made him take it out..!