Sean Dyche is unbeaten against old enemy Blackburn Rovers as Burnley boss – and he intends to keep it that way on Saturday.
Dyche has yet to taste defeat against the Clarets’ derby rivals in five outings, drawing the first three games, before successive wins at Ewood Park.
The first of those victories was a first over Rovers in almost 35 years, but Burnley have not lost to Blackburn in six years now, and sit 25 points clear of Paul Lambert’s side going into the 12-30 p.m. kick-off.
Dyche admits all that guarantees nothing, however: When I first came here, one of the biggest things people saif to me was to correct the run against Blackburn.
“They pressed the idea of getting that win, and we got that, and followed it up with another.
“But that doesn’t guarantee the next one.
“We have to perform.
“From our point of view, it’s just another game, but we totally understand, last week at Bolton, and this, that it is different for the fans.
“It’s another chance for us to perform and go and get what we want, more points towards what we want to achieve.
“We understand the difference in the feel of these games, I’ve been through this a number of times now.”
Dyche was in the stands at Ewood Park on Tuesday night as Rovers beat Burnley’s promotion rivals Middlesbrough 2-1 to prevent Boro leapfrogging the Clarets at the top of the table.
And he was impressed with what he saw: “Blackburn played well and deserved to win the game.
“They have some very good players.
“A lot was made of them losing Jordan Rhodes to Middlesbrough, but they still have some very good players there.
“Paul Lambert is getting to grips with what he wants from them, and it’s important we recognise we recognise what they are about.
“We always do – we did last week at Bolton, who have their challenges.”
Lambert takes charge of his first East Lancashire derby, and Dyche looks forward to doing battle: “I only know Paul in passing, but I’ve played against his teams before and he’s been good to speak to after games.
“And he knows the Championship well.”
Dyche is expected to be named Championship manager of the month today, after an unbeaten February which brought four wins and two away draws.
Whether he wins his first award of the season or not, won’t deflect from his preparations: “I haven’t even thought about it to be honest, there’s a lot going on!”
His preparations have been boosted this week, with a number of players coming through segments of a development squad game against Preston on Tuesday at the Barnfield Training Centre at Gawthorpe.
Ashley Barnes played 45 minutes in his first action since suffering cruciate and medial knee ligament damage at Aston Villa in the last game of last season, while Lloyd Dyer played the full match just over two weeks since signing as a free agent.
Dean Marney played an hour as he gets back to fitness following a calf niggle, while Michael Duff played 90 after a similar problem.
Dyche said: We were really pleased.
“It was good to get Barnesy some game time, and Duffo came through without any problems.
“Deano got 60 minutes, so we’ll build on that – we want to be 100% with that one.
“And Lloyd got a good run out and is probably coming to the end of his catch-up period – he’s probably up to speed now.”
Michael Keane is expected to be available tomorrow against the club where he had a loan spell two years ago.
Keane has missed the last two games under FA protocol after being forced off against Rotherham after suffering a blow to his head, colliding with Millers keeper Lee Camp.
James Tarkowski came on for his debut, and has subsequently started the last two games, and Dyche said: “Keano has been with us on the grass this week.
“We’ve still been checking him, but he’s been fine – we’re not over-thinking that one now.
“Tarky has done what we want him to, deliver performances and challenge.
“They are the type of decisions we want, where players are playing well.”