Duff outlines positives from Palace stalemate

Head master: Michael Duff challenges debutant James McArthur at Crystal Palace on Saturday
Head master: Michael Duff challenges debutant James McArthur at Crystal Palace on Saturday

Long-serving Clarets defender Michael Duff picked out the positives after a dramatic end in the stalemate at Selhurst Park.

With just four minutes of normal time remaining, Eagles stopper Julian Speroni thwarted Scott Arfield from the spot after Mile Jedinak wrestled striker Lukas Jutkiewicz to the ground.

But the 36-year-old refused to dwell on the missed opportunity as Sean Dyche’s side doubled their points tally, registered successive clean sheets and climbed off the foot of the Premier League table when leap-frogging West Brom and Newcastle.

It was Burnley’s first clean sheet on their travels in England’s top tier since a 1-0 win over Gordon Lee’s Magpies at St James’s Park in April 1976. And, after 19 clean sheets in the league last term, Duff is delighted to see the club continuing where they left off in the Championship.

“We’ve got to take the positives,” he said. “It’s another clean sheet in the Premier League and away from home. Any point away from home is good, especially in this league.

“We’ve just carried on from last year where we were hard to beat. We’ve got good organisation, players that work hard for each other and we can stay in games. Generally we stick together and we’re hard to beat which gives you that platform to nick a win which we were unfortunate not to do.

“We’ve just come off the bottom of the league so that serves as another positive. We’ve just got to keep ourselves in games, be hard to beat and stay organised.”

He added: “We know that we have to be at our maximum every game in this league. We are the minnows of minnows in this league. We’re tiny fish in a huge pond. We weren’t fancied last year, though, so we’ll just try to carry on this year. We back ourselves to do alright.

“We’ve shown bravery since the manager came in – that’s been said all along. It’s what the Championship success was built on. Hopefully we can grow in to this league doing the same thing and the goals will come with it.”

Meanwhile the former Northern Ireland international feels privileged to be a part of Dyche’s starting XI. Duff missed the first half of the 2009/10 campaign through injury, eventually making his Premier League debut when replacing Clarke Carlisle as a 34th minute substitute in a 2-0 defeat against Wolves on December 20th.

“I was injured at this point last time in the Premier League,” he said. “It’s great to be here. I’m the same as any supporter and most players are like any supporter – we all want to be here.

“We’re testing ourselves against the best and we know that we’ve got to be at our best every game. With the squad now – with the quality and numbers that we’ve added – there won’t be many lives for people if they’re not at it and they’re not playing well.

“That’s why we’re here. You’ve got to enjoy the likes of Di Maria making his debut last week and Diego Costa. It’s great. From a little boy you want to compete against the best and I’m no different.”