Tuesday 6 December 2016

Duff: It's different this time

Published 03/04/2015 | 13:16

Burnley defender Michael Duff is confident of avoiding relegation
Burnley defender Michael Duff is confident of avoiding relegation

Defender Michael Duff believes Burnley are much better equipped to survive in the Barclays Premier League than five years ago.

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The Clarets' previous season in the top flight, 2009-10, ended in relegation after early promise fizzled out and inspirational manager Owen Coyle quit the club midway through the campaign.

This time it took longer for Sean Dyche's men to make their mark - their first win came in their 11th game - but their determination to beat the odds has been clearly evident.

With eight games remaining they are still in the relegation zone but, just three points off 15th place, there is reason for optimism.

Duff said: "The manager leaving the last time - he had everyone buying into what he thought and then he decided to leave for his own reasons in the January. It ripped the heart out of the club.

"It didn't matter who came in, it was going to be an uphill task.

"This is completely different. Everyone is 100 per cent - the board, the players, the supporters, the staff. We are all pulling in the same direction, as we have done all season and last season.

"There's a real belief that we can achieve something this year against all the odds.

"There is definitely a stronger mentality in this squad which reflects the manager. There is absolutely no chance you would think we were in the bottom three if you looked in the dressing room and the training ground because the place is so upbeat."

With most of the squad not required for international duty over the past fortnight - Danny Ings, Sam Vokes, Michael Keane and Stephen Ward being the exceptions - Dyche took his squad to a training camp in Spain last week.

The hope is they will now come back refreshed for a run-in that begins with a tricky visit from Tottenham on Sunday. The idea of a getaway certainly paid dividends a year ago when the Clarets returned to launch their final assault on a promotion place.

Veteran centre-back Duff, 37, said: "It was good, a change of scenery.

"Sometimes it's the same four walls, same pitches, same faces, so it was nice to get some sun on our backs. We had four or five good sessions there as well.

"It freshens things up a little bit. There are different targets to last year but hopefully we'll achieve our goals, which is the ultimate aim.

"For the last two years people have written us off and we've proved them wrong. No-one gave us a prayer this year, and with eight games to go we're still alive and kicking. We're going to have a right good go."

Duff knows he could have his work cut out this weekend as he comes up against in-form Spurs striker Harry Kane, the Premier League's current man of the moment.

He said: "He's on a decent run at the minute isn't he? Not a bad 12 months to be fair to him. Full credit to him, he's been unbelievable.

"They've got more than one good player, but he's definitely one to keep an eye on."

Press Association

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