Thursday 22 February 2018

Duff: It's different this time

Michael Duff is confident Burnley have what it takes to survive
Michael Duff is confident Burnley have what it takes to survive

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

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."

Ward should be back in contention after overcoming an ankle injury.

Meanwhile, Tottenham defender Ben Davies will allow no room for sentiment up against Wales team-mate Vokes.

Spurs head to Turf Moor looking to sustain a decent run following just one defeat, at Manchester United, from four Barclays Premier League matches before the international break as they look to keep alives hopes of European qualification.

Clarets forward Vokes and full-back Davies were part of the Wales team which beat Israel 3-0 in their Euro 2016 qualifying tie.

However, Davies maintains there can be no quarter given should he get the chance of a first Spurs appearance since the 2-1 win at QPR.

"I have played alongside Sam with Wales for a good couple of years now and it is always strange coming up against somebody who is normally a team-mate, but regardless of that Burnley is a tough place to go," Davis said on the club's official website.

"Burnley are a well-organised team and they can make it very difficult for their opponents.

"They have taken points off some big teams this year, so we need to go there and make sure that we are focused and be wary of the threats that they have got."

Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris will miss the match because of a knee injury.

Full-back Danny Rose will be assessed after returning early from an England call-up with hamstring and hip issues.

Forward Roberto Soldado (knee) is another concern.

Press Association

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