MICHAEL Duff says it would be “foolish” to change tactics and start talking about promotion, until it is real.
Second placed Burnley have a 10-point safety net with 18 to play for.
Come Saturday, they could be joining Leicester City and celebrating a Premier League return should they win tonight’s game at Barnsley and on Saturday at home to Middlesbrough, and other results go their way.
Yet the Clarets are going out of the way to avoid the subject – certainly the ‘P’ word itself. And Duff believes that is exactly how it should stay – until probability becomes reality.
“It is what it is, people know where we are, people are trying to say the same things, but like the gaffer and the lads have said all season, it would be foolish to start looking ahead now,” said the experienced defender, for who promotion would be his second with the club and fifth of his career.
“There are six games to go and we know what we have to do, take it a game at a time, three points at a time and hopefully we’ll get there.
“Saturday at Watford was a good point. To go away from home anywhere in this league it’s hard to pick up points. And it shows you something about the character of the team and the squad that we kept going.”
Defeats for nearest challengers QPR and Derby increased the gap to second place by one point. But it is still not enough. Not yet.
“It becomes a better point when you get in and see the other results, but during the game we went all out it get back in it, and then to go on and win it.
“That’s what we’ve been doing all season, and that’s why it would be foolish to look ahead.”
Battling Barnsley pose the latest test, at what has been a bogey ground for Burnley over the years.
The Clarets have won only once there in 83 years, on Boxing Day 2010.
But, although the Tykes are desperate to claw their way out of the relegation zone, Duff says a theme of this season has been about breaking down such statistical barriers.
“There have been a few hoodoos we’ve put to bed, and most of the lads haven’t been here long enough to know about anything like that,” he said.
“That’s for the supporters, we haven’t thought about it – there’s been the Blackburn one, the best start for 100-odd years, the Ipswich one stuck out, and a few more.
“Barnsley is an important game, and hopefully we can put on a performance.
“It’s not going to be easy. Where they are in the league they’ll be fighting harder than maybe they were two or three months ago, which is a strange thing that happens in football, and they’ve had a few good results of late.”
Manager Sean Dyche, anticipates a tough contest against the Tykes, and not just because of their precarious league position.
“Everyone’s got a different motive at any given time of the season,” he said.
“So we prepare as we do, mentally focused, physically focused, ready for another demanding game because they all are in the Championship.
“Any given game can be topsy turvy. You can’t define what’s going to happen in a game but you can be ready for it, and that’s what we’ve shown.”
Meanwhile, while it goes without saying that Duff would love to cap his 10th season with a second promotion with Burnley, he admits there has been no talk yet about a second season in the Premier League, should they confirm their place.
“I just want to play to the end of the season and whatever happens will happen,” said Duff, who is out of contract in the summer.
“Whether that’s good or bad, I’ve not been to see the manager, it’s not a conversation we’ve had. There are too many things going on.”