Burnley boss hails model pro Duff
SEAN Dyche has praised Michael Duff’s professionalism and commitment to the Clarets over the last nine years.
The defender, a £30,000 signing from Cheltenham in 2004, is set to join the 300 club at Turf Moor when Burnley host Charlton Athletic in the Championship this afternoon.
He would become only the fourth Claret in the 21st century to reach the milestone – and only the 29th in the club’s history.
And Dyche believes it is a measure of his application and ability that, at 35, there is no sign of Duff easing off.
“He’s been a real valued servant I’m sure by the Burnley faithful and the club and his team-mates, and he remains that,” said the Burnley boss, who insists age is no barrier.
“I think football’s changed radically.
“We think we’ve changed some good things here with more detailed sports science and more detailed analysis, they’re all things that help.
“It’s invaluable for the older players to have that kind of support and we help him to manage himself wisely we think.
“He knows there are no guarantees to performing and he’s aware of that.
“I like to think we speak with the players and evolve them so there’s some future education for him there and different things for him to think about.
“But from our point of view it’s concentrating and focusing on what he’s doing – training right, looking after himself and playing – and he’s been doing that.”
Duff was rested for the midweek Capital One Cup win over Nottingham Forest but is set to return to the backline today.
And Dyche believes having Irish youngster Kevin Long waiting in the wings is bringing the best out of the experienced centre half.
“Kevin Long came in again the other night – part of his ongoing process of developing into the team,” said the Clarets boss.
“It’s fair to say Duffo delivered a very good performance at Leeds.
“It’s nice for me as a manager to have those players vying for places, but he’s been a fantastic servant and he continues to be that.”
But Long’s inclusion in the side, for the first time since last month’s defeat at Brighton, is a measure of the options at his disposal, according to Dyche, despite a small squad.
And he is pleased with the way his players are responding.
“I’m the manager, I have to make decisions. The one thing I make clear to them and have done ever since I got here, there are only 11 that can play. It’s as simple as that and they have to be respectful of that, stick with it, work hard, in and out of the team the same rules apply,” said the Burnley boss.
“I think they’ve been fantastic in the way they’ve adapted to that because there’s no moaning. Of course there are people who ask questions, and rightly so.
“If they ask why they’re not playing I give them an honest reason that I think is valid.
“They’ve been respectful of that and they know the group is greater than the individual.
“There are good markers behind the performance levels.”
He added: “There were challenges last year but there was always a good feel about the group. I believe that you rehearse on the training field and you’re ready to go when the games come around.
“Part of that is the feelgood factor that we have at the training ground. It’s not just the tactical work and the technical work, and the physical and mental side. It’s having that social feel to the group.
“They don’t have to all be best mates, but while they’re on the pitch they do.
“We’ve highlighted that more.”
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