‘There are six games to go and we know what we have to do’ - Michael Duff

Michael Duff celebrates his goal against Birmingham
Michael Duff celebrates his goal against Birmingham

Burnley have been busting hoodoos all season.

And stalwart Michael Duff is eager to smash another tonight as Sean Dyche’s promotion chasers travel over the Pennines to face relegation-threatened Barnsley.

Oakwell is something of a graveyard for Burnley, earning one win in 18 visits, stretching back to 1932.

Duff was an unused substitute in the 2-1 victory on Boxing Day 2010, and in a campaign where the Clarets have beaten Blackburn for the first time in 35 years, won at Ipswich for the first time in over 43 years, and collected only a second win at Leeds since 1974, Burnley have shown no regard for what has gone before.

He said: “There’s been a few hoodoos we’ve put to bed, and most of the lads haven’t been here long enough to know about anything like that.

“That’s for the supporters, we haven’t thought about it - there’s been the Blackburn one, the best start for 100-odd years, the Ipswich one stuck out, and a few more.

“And we won at Barnsley the year we came down, so it’s three years or so.

“It’s an important game, and hopefully we can put on a performance.

“It’s not going to be easy, they’ll be fighting hard, and they’ve had a few good results of late.”

The Tykes are battling to preserve their Championship status, while Burnley close in on a return to the Premier League, and despite stretching their advantage in second place to 10 points from QPR on Saturday, the 36-year-old isn’t getting ahead of himself: “It is what it is, people know where we are, people are trying to say the same things, but like the gaffer and the lads have said all season, it would be foolish to start looking ahead now.

“There are six games to go and we know what we have to do, take it a game at a time.

“Saturday was a good point (at Watford), although a point away from home in this league is hard to pick up.

“It showed something about the character of the team and the squad that we kept going.

“We had a few chances, they had a few to kill it off, but we kept going, and even when we scored we created a couple more chances, when we could have sat back and taken the point.

“It becomes a better point when you get in and see the other results, but during the game we went all out it get back in it, and then to go on and win it.

“That’s what we’ve been doing all season, and why it would be foolish to look ahead.”

As he mentions, the character of the squad has shone through of late, at a time when the side has been shorn of three of the players voted in the Championship’s top 10 this season - Danny Ings, Keiran Trippier and Sam Vokes, as well as key midfielder Dean Marney, and Duff added: “I’ve said it before, I think the lads have been brilliant when they’ve not been playing, because it’s the hardest place to be, not playing in a team that’s winning.

“You get paid to play on Saturday afternoon in front of crowds, and they’ve been great because they’ve been supportive.

“There was always doing to be a point where the squad had to be used, and they’ve come in and done really well.

“Because it’s such a small group, it’s tight-knit, and that’s proved in the last two weeks when people have come in and done exactly the same as what has been done before.

“Everyone knows their jobs in the team, and you’re not at the club unless you’ve got the right mentality and work ethic, because the gaffer wouldn’t have you - that’s a given.

“Everyone is chomping at the bit to play, but not everyone can play.”

Chris Baird has come in as a free agent and utilised all his experience in his four appearances so far, but Duff knew what to expect from his former international colleague: “I know Bairdy, I’ve played with him quite a bit with a Northern Ireland, and you look at his CV - it surprises me people are surprised he’s done well.

“He’s played in an FA Cup Final, a Europa League Final, 150 Premier League games...

“He’s just a good player and he’s fitted in very well.

“He’s a good, solid pro.

“He’s not going to upset the apple cart, he’s the right type of character, like the players that have been brought in - they’ve been the right fit.

“Bairdy didn’t have a club, and I think he jumped at the opportunity.

“He’s taken a couple of games to find his legs, but he’s not been out of place.”

Duff, in his 10th season at Turf Moor, has made 36 appearances so far, forming a miserly central defensive partnership with skipper Jason Shackell, and he believes he is playing as well as he has in Claret and Blue: “I feel fit, I feel good. I’ve had a couple of knocks along the way, but you’re not going to play 30-40 games without carrying something, most of the lads have at some point.

“It’s probably been my most consistent season, the first few were tough because I was playing out of position, but it’s a case of just playing, and doing what you can.

“I wasn’t favoured with a couple of managers for one reason or another, I’ve been in of the team and out of the team, and you’ve just got to get on with it.

“There’s no point crying about it, hard work is the only thing that will get you back in.”

He is out of contract at the end of the season, but is only focusing on helping Burnley get over the line: “I just want to play to the end of the season, and whatever happens, will happen.

“Whether that’s good or bad, I’ve not been to see the manager, it’s not a conversation we’ve had, there’s too many things going on.”

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