Stalwart Duff hopes continuity will serve in Burnley’s favour

Michael Duff battles with Leon Best.
Michael Duff battles with Leon Best.

Clarets stalwart Michael Duff has seen remarkable changes on and off the pitch since arriving from Cheltenham Town in the summer of 2004.

The 35-year-old is the last remaining member of the squad who won promotion to the Premier League in 2009.

In three years, that side has been dismantled, as often happens to teams dropping out of the top league - indeed, Matthew Gilks is the only Blackpool player left from their odyssey two years ago.

But as he begins his 10th season at the club, Duff is thankful to have proven such a valued servant at Turf Moor: “There’s such a big turnover of players now.

“I don’t know what the released number was last year - about 700-800 players got released and I know quite a few players recently who have struggled to get clubs.

“Football is the same as pretty much every other industry at the minute, it’s cutting costs and it’s hard. I’m thankful still to be here.”

At Burnley, the change has been minimal over the summer, compared to previous years, and the Northern Ireland international feels that could be a positive: “I think the bulk of the squad is the same as last year. We’ve lost a couple and there have been a few additions, so the turnover hasn’t been massive, which I think is a good thing. So hopefully a bit of continuity will hopefully mean we do all right.

“People like Beasty (Brian Jensen), Chris McCann, Pato (Martin Paterson) have gone. They were good guys, but it’s football, it’s a revolving door.”

Jensen left after his testimonial year, and Duff is still pondering his options on that front: “I didn’t think I’d be here 10 years to be honest. There are a few people who wish I wasn’t here 10 years but I’ve enjoyed it!

“I’ve never looked to move or asked to leave, I’ve always been happy here and luckily enough they still want me so far so I’m quite happy to stay.

“I’ve just been trying to get through pre-season, which is not easy when you get to my age. A testimonial is something that has been mentioned, but I’ve not spoken about it or gone into any sort of detail. I’m sure something will get sorted.”

While Duff is delighted to start a 10th season at Turf Moor, he’s similarly pleased Charlie Austin remains a teammate after a move to Hull City fell through: “It’s a massive boost. Obviously we were all devastated for him because, coming from where he’s come from – I’ve been lucky enough to play in the Premier League.It was my childhood ambition to play in the top flight.

“That was his opportunity and it got taken away from him. On the positive side, it’s 25 goals walking back in the building, which saves the gaffer a headache I’m guessing, because the hardest thing to do is score goals.

“The lads took the Mick out of him as much as anything.

“It’s one of those things.He’s actually taken it really well. He was devastated and we were all devastated for him.

“But the way he’s bounced back has been brilliant - he’s the same old Charlie – he’s lively, walks in the door and you’d think nothing had ever happened.

“He didn’t let that sink into the squad, that sort of sombreness. He’s been great.

“The best thing he could do was come back in here and have the p*** taken out of him basically. It’s a laugh or cry scenario. You come in, have a laugh, get in amongst the lads and have him smiling again.

“No doubt if he keeps scoring goals another chance will come.”