FORMER Claret David Unsworth says Michael Duff deserves a new deal, regardless of what division Burnley are in next season.
Duff, who played alongside Unsworth in the 2007/08 season, is one of seven remaining players whose contracts run out this summer, while a further 10 expire at the end of the 2014/15 season.
The Clarets have moved quickly to tie striker Sam Vokes to a longer term deal, and the club have indicated that talks have begun with a number of others.
And Unsworth feels long-serving Duff should be among the ones that Burnley are looking to keep, even if he helps the club secure a second promotion in five years.
“Duffo’s consistent, he’s experienced, he is a leader – he deserves another contract,” said the former Everton defender.
“I’m surprised it hasn’t been sorted out already. I know money is tight for the majority of clubs but I see no reason why Duff wouldn’t get another year.”
Even if the second-placed Clarets are promoted – as Unsworth admitted he expects this season – he feels Duff is well enough equipped for another season in the top flight.
“People say that because he is the other side of 30 he can’t pay in the Premier League. He can, because he is an experienced player – he has been there before – and that counts for a lot in the Premier League,” said the Chorley-born England cap, who played until he was 36.
“If a player’s playing, and playing well – as he is – why shouldn’t he get another year?
“If Burnley go up or not, Duffo’s still a valuable member of the squad, but the most important thing is he is a top pro, he trains every day, he’s as fit as a fiddle and has a top attitude.
“And his form has never suffered with the amount of games he has played.
“He’s solid as a rock and has formed a great partnership with Jason Shackell.”
And it is that defensive unit, along with the central midfield partnership of Dean Marney and David Jones, and 40-goal strike partnership of Sam Vokes and Danny Ings, that influences Unsworth to believe that Burnley can go the distance in the promotion race.
“Burnley are as good a team as I’ve seen in the Championship, and I’ve seen a lot of Championship games this season,” said the 40-year-old.
“I saw them against Bolton and they were really solid, very difficult to break down.
“There's a real good feel about them.”