Duff can play on and on, says Dyche
SEAN Dyche thinks veteran centre back Michael Duff can play on ‘as long as he wants’ after having a key role in Burnley’s fine first half of the season.
Duff is expected to start once more when Burnley host Blackpool this afternoon and turns 36 on January 11, when he will surpass the age at which Clarets boss Dyche called a halt to his own playing career in 2007.
The long-serving defender’s current contract expires in the summer but Duff has been a mainstay of the Clarets side this term and Dyche sees no reason why that form cannot continue.
“Duffo has got an open chance of playing for as long as he wants,” said the manager.
“I don’t look at his age, it doesn’t bother me.
“I look at what he’s doing for the team and how he’s developing.
“If you’re playing well, age is irrelevant to me. There are many players who can go on well into their 30s and their late 30s, if not Teddy Sheringham and others who have played to 40-odd.”
Duff featured 28 times last season, triggering a one-year extension to his Turf Moor deal.
He has already played 16 games this term, making his 300th appearance for Burnley in September, and Dyche sees the desire for success that Duff clearly still possesses.
“I think the way players look after themselves now across the board has changed radically,” he said.
“The dietary support they get, the sports science support they get, analysis, we hope we look after them as well physically and mentally.
“So I think it’s open now for players, I think they can continue playing.
“The main thing when you get older is the hunger and the desire to perform. As long as you’ve got that, then that can take you a long way. He’s certainly shown great of signs of that.
“He’s enjoying his football, he’s enjoying being part of this group and he’s shown good signs of using his experience, so we’ll look for that to continue.”
Duff has formed a strong partnership with Jason Shackell in the centre of the Clarets defence.
Only QPR have conceded fewer than Burnley in the Championship, with Dyche’s side shipping only 14 goals in 20 matches.
“I think they’ve done very well,” Dyche said of the central defensive partnership.
“Kevin Long has done well when he’s had to, Laffers (Danny Lafferty) has come in, Tripps (Kieran Trippier) is having another good season as he does, Tom Heaton behind them, and Alex Cisak has come in and done well in the cup.
“There are good signs from all of the back five. Whichever way we have to do it they’ve shown good signs and that’s always pleasing for myself and my staff, with the work we do on the training ground with them.”
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