Burnley striker Paterson hoping for a repeat of 2009

FIT-AGAIN striker Martin Paterson insists the class of 2012 can emulate the promotion-winning team of three years ago.

Paterson netted 19 goals - including a key strike in the play-off semi-final second leg at Reading in 2009 as the Clarets stormed into the Premier League.

Owen Coyle’s men lost only one of the last 11 regular season games, and won all three play-off matches without conceding a goal, to reach the promised land.

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Three years on, Eddie Howe’s side lie four points behind Birmingham City in sixth place - who have two games in hand.

But Paterson, who returned on Friday night in the unfortunate 1-0 defeat at Reading, after missing the last five games with a hamstring injury, believes this squad can match that form in the final 14 matches.

Three of the next four games are at home - starting with Saturday’s visit of Millwall - and the 24-year-old said: “We now need to concentrate and dig in because it’s time to start putting results and runs together.

“In this league it’s possible to do that.

“When we got promoted we went on a 10-15-game run that was remarkable.

“And I this this group is capable of that.

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“Everybody is fit now, there’ll be competition for places, and if we’re all pulling in the same direction, which we are, we’ve got a great chance.

“I know Junior Stanislas is yet to come back, but once he’s back I think we’ve got a full squad, and now’s the time to start a run.”

The former Stoke and Scunthorpe frontman hopes to make the most of home advantage over the next few games, with Birmingham and Crystal Palace to come following a trip to Watford: “It needs to be now rather than later.

“The next five games are crucial in my eyes. If we go on a nice five-game run now, it puts you in a really good position.”

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Paterson is hoping for a bit of luck on the injury front, after missing large chunks of the last three seasons with various problems, and he said: “It’s good to be back, obviously not in the circumstances, but it’s good to be back playing again.

“We always knew the hamstring wasn’t a major problem, it was just a fatigue injury because I’d ran so much at Middlesbrough and it just tweaked, so we weree cautious coming back, and I’ve done all the work and now I feel okay.

“I came back okay and I think I’ll be the stronger for it this time, I thought I looked okay when I came on on Friday and was unlucky really not to score, but that’s the way football is, unfortunately we lost but I think the performance was good and there’s positives to take.”

Paterson’s return co-incides with that of Danny Ings, who has featured as a substitute in the last two games after suffering a serious knee injury in training before kicking a ball for the club following his August move from Bournemouth.

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Paterson feels the 19-year-old has a bright future: “It’s great, Danny has great enthusiasm.

“I know the Burnley fans haven’t seen him, only for a short period, but he’s very talented.

“He’s only 19, which is brilliant for the club, but more so for himself.

“He’s fully fit, but if we can get him playing a bit more progressive, he’s a massive talent.

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“I think he’s going to be the next one off the conveyor belt of strikers we have.

“Hopefully we don’t put too much pressure on him this season, but I’m sure, with the back end of this season under his belt, we’ve got a very exciting prospect on our hands.”

Howe has a nice selection headache now, with Jay Rodriguez, Charlie Austin, Paterson, Ings and Zavon Hines all competing for a slot, and Paterson added: “It’s come at the right time, we’ve got all the forwards fit and the competition heats up, which is good.

“We’ll be chomping at the bit to get into the starting line-up.

“We all want to play and score goals, so it’s excellent.”

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And he feels more performances like the one at Reading will only bring victories: “I’m biased, but I watched the first 25 minutes and there was only one winner.

“They got a very lucky goal - no disrespect but it shanked off his shin - and it came from nowhere.

“They managed to see it out, but I think the lads played really well.

“I think the manager has a way he likes to play, and it’s taken a while for the players to adapt and to learn.

“But now we’ve learned it we seem to be executing it really well.

“It didn’t quite happen at Reading, but this negative will turn into a positive in the next couple of home games.”