Burnley’s play-off hopes are still alive

TOMORROW’S opponents Crystal Palace haven’t ruled out a late play-off push after compiling a six-game unbeaten run.

But with the Eagles only a point better off than the Clarets, can Burnley arrest their recent dip and resuscitate their own top six ambitions?

Eddie Howe’s men lie eight points behind six-place Birmingham City, having lost four of their last five games.

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The last two defeats have been particularly hurtful, in the manner of the performance against Millwall at Turf Moor, and the collpase at Watford, having held a two-goal advantage.

After the game at Vicarage Road, Howe expressed his wish that the season doesn’t fizzle out in the remaining 12 matches, and asistant boss Jason Tindall echoes that sentiment.

He said: “We need to get the final push off to a good start against Palace.

“We haven’t hit the standards we have set in the last few games, and we need to bounce back quickly now.

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“The lads were devastated after Saturday, after being in total control in the game.

“To lose was really disappointing, and to concede the goals we did was annoying.

“But we try and take positives out of every game, and we have to learn from that.

“We’re a young side and when Michael Duff is out of the team, we lose that experience and leadership qualities he brings.”

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Duff remains a big doubt for tomorrow after coming off at half-time at Watford with a dead leg and nerve damage, and Tindall added: “Duffo is being assessed, but he’s not trained this week.

“Hopefully he will join in this morning (Thursday), but if we’re not sure he’s 100% fit, we won’t take that risk with him.

“We could lose him for the rest of the season if we gamble on his fitness, so hopefully he’ll be okay, but if not, we won’t chance it.”

Tindall expects a tough test against another young side, who reached the Carling Cup semi-finals, and are in a good vein of form: “Palace are on a great run, they are organised and difficult to beat, but we will be well prepared, and if we achieve the standards we have shown many times this season, it is a game we can win.

“Palace have some exciting, dangerous young players, and it’s going to be tough, but we also have young, exciting talent and hopefully we will come out on top.”