Date: 28th February 2014 at 8:48am
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A week on Sunday it`s the big local derby away to Blackburn. First though we have a great chance to consolidate second spot if we can defeat automatic promotion rivals, Derby County at Turf Moor this Saturday.

The Pre-amble:

The Clarets have a great chance of putting some clear blue water between themselves and their automatic promotion rivals below them if they can only beat one of those teams, Derby County at Turf Moor this Saturday. It should be a belter of a game and very tense for both sets of fans. Burnley are currently in second spot with 63 points from 32 games just two points more than the Rams who occupy third spot. Steve McClaren`s men therefore would need an away win to go above Burnley whereas the Clarets would need just a point to keep hold of that second automatic promotion spot. A Burnley win though would really put the cat amongst the pigeons! We are already seven points clear of fourth placed QPR (albeit having played a game more) and eight points clear of fifth placed Forest who we beat 3-1 at Turf Moor last Saturday. Victory over the Rams would mean no matter what the other results are on Saturday, Burnley would be at least five points clear of their nearest rival. What a boost that would be going into the big derby away to Rovers a week on Sunday!

What though are our chances of beating the Rams? Derby are unbeaten in seven matches, but then Burnley have not lost in ten league games and are still undefeated at Turf Moor in the Championship this season. Derby too must feel Burnley are a bit of a bogey team. We beat them on their ground 3-0 back in August and indeed have not lost against them in the last nine encounters winning amazingly seven of them and drawing two. The scene is set for one hell of a battle! Come on you Clarets!

Burnley Team News:

Sean Dyche appears to have no new injury concerns with only Brian Stock currently on the treatment table. The midfielder has been suffering since early December with a back injury. The gaffer could have the luxury of naming the same starting eleven for the seventh game in succession.

Player to watch: Jason Shackell

If anybody will want to prove a point it will be former Rams defender, Jason Shackell and his role as captain as well as in the back four will be crucial on Saturday.

Derby County Team News:

Craig Bryson (thigh) and Jamie Ward (hamstring) both missed last Saturday`s victory over Bournemouth but both are understood to have fully recovered and back in contention for the crucial game this Saturday. The news effectively means Rams manager, Steve McClaren will have a full squad to choose from.

Player to watch: Chris Martin

One striker who we will need to keep quiet on Saturday is Chris Martin. He is the Rams leading goal scorer by some distance having notched up 18 so far this season. The 25 year old former Norwich striker signed permanently for Derby following a loan spell at Pride Park finally leaving Carrow Road in July 2013 on a free transfer after agreeing a two-year contract with the possibility of a third year

Team & Tactics:

Dyche looks likely to name the same starting eleven for the seventh consecutive match and indeed it could be the same eighteen for the third game running. The line-up if so would be as follows :

Heaton, Trippier, Duff, Shackell, Mee, Kightly, Jones, Marney, Arfield, Vokes, Ings

Subs: Cisak, Long, Edgar, Treacy, Stanislas, Wallace, Barnes

Ref Watch:

Bobby Madley will be the referee for this one and this will be his third game this season involving the Clarets! The omens are not good either since we lost both the previous two games although they were both in the cup competitions against Premier League opposition. The West Yorkshire Premier league referee was in charge when we lost 4-3 away to Southampton in the FA Cup and was also the man in the middle when we went down 2-0 at home to West Ham in the Capital One game. We lost that one 2-0 and the referee played a key part in that defeat awarding the Hammers two penalties! He also sent off Keith Treacy after fouling Jack Collison in the box in injury time and the midfielder side-footed home from the spot. In his 19 games so far this season, six players have been sent off and another sixty-nine seen yellow.

Match Prediction:

I would take a point in this one and that`s all we would need to stay in second spot. If we play like we did at home to Forest last Saturday though I fancy our chances of shading this one so I am going to be more positive and plump for a 2-1 Clarets victory!

Next Match:

Oh what fun a week on Sunday! On the 9th of March it will be the annual pilgrimage on the Deadwood Stage to see the lads try and get one over our bitter local rivals, Blackburn Rovers. As well as being played on a Sunday, fans are also reminded that this Sky televised game will also kick-off early at 12:30pm.