Duff delighted to silence doubters

Rock solid: Michael Duff has helped the meanest defence in the Championship record 21 clean sheets this season

Rock solid: Michael Duff has helped the meanest defence in the Championship record 21 clean sheets this season

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Five years after helping the Clarets win promotion to the Premier League at Wembley, Michael Duff admits this current Burnley side’s achievement tops that.

The Clarets will take their place again in the top flight next season, having finished as Championship runners-up with a joint-record points total for second place.

Back in 2009, Burnley finished fifth before negotiating the play-offs without conceding a goal, but Duff said: “I think this season has got to be seen as better really, because of being around the top since August and everyone expecting us to go away.

“Players talk to players, and speaking to players in the last week or two, they said themselves that they expected us to fall away. Everyone did.

“But we’ve almost got stronger.

“Someone said we stumbled over the line. Second or third in the form table, that’s not a bad stumble.

“It’s been a fantastic achievement and it’s because of the consistency.

“Last time when we got promoted we were almost like a cup team.

“We did unbelievable in the FA Cup, the Carling Cup and sort of just sneaked our way into the play-offs - sort of a cup competition in itself.

“I’m not taking anything away from that, but I think to show the consistency we have this season has been brilliant.”

Asked how being promoted at Turf Moor compared to doing it at Wembley, he smiled: “I don’t care, I’ve done them both!”

The challenge is to stay there, after suffering the low of relegation in 2010, but Duff admitted: “I don’t think there’s unfinished business, it’s a hard league to stay in.

“We wouldn’t be the first that went up and came back down, and we’ve already been written off.

“Someone told me we were 4/9 favourites to go down and we don’t even know who’s going to be in the league yet!

“I think the times we’ve played Premier League teams in cup competitions this year we’ve done pretty well.

“It’s hard to say about next season because you don’t know who’s going to be here and who’s not. It’s something we’ll look forward to when we arrive for pre-season.

“Obviously there’s going to be a lot of hard work and a lot of planning in between now and then.”

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