LEON Cort has a foot in both camps at tomorrow’s Lancashire derby.
The 31-year-old is currently on loan at Preston from the Clarets, although he is not eligible to face his parent club.
However, in the predicament North End find themselves in at the foot of the Championship table, 10 points clear of safety, Cort admits he hopes his current teammates can dent Burnley’s play-off ambitions.
Cort is with Preston until the end of the season, having made 11 appearances so far since arriving at the end of November.
It’s fair to say he is yet to win the Turf Moor faithful over after arriving from Stoke City for £1.5m in January last year, making only 20 appearances - his last ending in a red card in the 4-0 home defeat against Reading, in which he also conceded a penalty.
But he has been in good form for Preston under both Darren Ferguson and new chief Phil Brown - who is looking for his first win at the helm at the 10th attempt tomorrow.
And Cort will be in the stand cheering on North End: “It’s disappointing that I won’t be playing.
“Obviously you want to play every game, but it’s out of my hands.
“Hopefully, we will still be able to get a good result.”
Cort signed a three-and-a-half year deal at Burnley, after Brian Laws brought him in as one of his first signings to help preserve the Clarets’ Premier League status.
Once his Preston loan expires, he will still have two years on his contract at Turf Moor, but he admits his future is up in the air.
New Clarets boss Eddie Howe has spoken to the former Hull and Crystal Palace man, but allowed him to stay out on loan when first assessing his squad on his arrival.
And Cort said: “I don’t know what the situation is yet at Burnley.
“I spoke to the new manager when he first came in.
“He just said that he wasn’t going to rearrange the team straight away, and he said if I wanted to keep doing what I was doing, then that would be okay.
“He said he would keep tabs on me and then we’ll see what happens at the end of the season.”
Cort is just happy to be playing regular football, having been on the fringes at Stoke in the Premier League, before his switch to Burnley.
And while North End are battling against adversity, he has enjoyed his stay so far: “When you’re playing football, you enjoy it.
“Regular football is what I want.
“I don’t want to be playing reserve-team football – it’s no good for me really.
“It’s nice to be playing week in and week out and getting your fitness levels up and enjoying the games.”
Meanwhile, Billy Jones, whose sending off turned the first meeting of the sides on it’s head, is out to put things right tomorrow.
The right back was dismissed for time-wasting at a throw-in, with Preston leading 3-1.
Burnley went on to win 4-3 with three late goals, and Jones, who earned a point at Nottingham Forest on Tuesday night with an injury time equaliser - earning a booking for his celebrations - said: “I got booked again against Forest for taking my shirt off when I scored, I got a bit excited.
“I’ll take scoring a goal and getting a booking every time - hopefully it can be the winner in the derby.
“We have shown in the last couple of games what the Championship is all about.
“Everyone can match each other, from first in the league to bottom.
“I think we are building up a bit of momentum now, hopefully we can take it into the Burnley game.
“We have shown everyone that we haven’t given up and still believe, and that we are a good team.
“Hopefully we can show that this weekend by getting a win.
“Burnley will be a tough game, derbies are a bit different, they’re usually a bit ugly.
“We know Burnley like to play football, we like to play football ourselves, but I would imagine it will down to whoever wants it the most.”