CHRIS Eagles believes Burnley’s experience in the promotion pressure cooker could be crucial.
The Clarets slipped to a first defeat in seven league games at home to Millwall on Saturday.
But tonight they play one of there two games in hand on the top six, as they host Coventry, looking for the win that would move them to within a point of the play-offs.
Leaders QPR were the only team in the top seven to win over the weekend, as sides begin to stumble approaching the run-in.
And Eagles feels there are similarities to Burnley’s play-off charge two years ago: “There are because we’re in the same position, just outside.
“We perhaps weren’t in as good as a position as we are now.
“I’m really excited to see what happens.
“Three quarters of the squad have been through it before with Burnley, which is going to help if we get in the play-offs again.
“It’s a massive thing to have, because some players might not perform because of the occasion.
“With our squad, the majority have done it or played in the Premier League, so it will drive them on to want it more.”
Burnley’s ambitions are in their own hands if they can win their games in hand, as they lie four points adrift of Nottingham Forest in sixth.
But there remains a sense of frustration that the Clarets could have made things a lot easier for themselves: “It’s nice to be in this position, although that comes with responsibility.
“But It’s frustrating because we know we could be third or fourth now with two games in hand if we hadn’t dropped points.
“We’ve got to play five of the top six in the last 11 games.
“It’s looking positive, but we can’t get too ahead of ourselves, because if we don’t win those two games in hand we could be sitting where we are now, outside the play-offs.
“I think everyone wants game after game now, and that’s what we’re going to get with all the Saturday-Tuesday games coming up.”
While Eagles can draw on his own experience of 2009, he still picks the brains of an old teammate who has seen pretty much all there is to see in football.
Ryan Giggs, who set a new Manchester United all-time appearances record last Sunday, often lends an ear: “I worked with Giggsy at United and speak to him all the time.
“If I still see him now I talk to him about things.
“He was always helping.
“I think even Ryan would say he’s still learning. In any job you can never say you’re perfect. You’re always learning.
“But experienced people like him and Paul Scholes, they always tell you what they know and pass it down to you.”
That desire to continually improve yourself extends to spending time away from Turf Moor studying the best in the business on television.
Another former United teammate Cristiano Ronaldo remains must-see viewing for Eagles, along with Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona.
Eagles has looked to the example of Ronaldo, who initially reacted with petulance to the more physical side of the game in England, before rising above it.
And he feels he is beginning to do the same.
Eagles is often the target of some rough treatment from opposition players - like at QPR - but is getting wise to it: “Cristiano used to get whacked a lot, and he still does.
“He’s brilliant. I’ve always respected him and what he’s done.
“He had it tough when he first came to England. He’s one of my idols.
“Players bounce off him now because that’s the confidence he’s got, and he’s always had it.
“I didn’t have a great relationship with him at United because he didn’t speak a lot of English, but he’s always helped me - if we were doing crossing and things like that.
“I still watch him in the Champions League - I like to watch all I can. I taped Arsenal v Barcelona and you can just watch people like that and learn from them.”
Ronaldo is the prime example of a forward who plays predominantly in wide positions, but can play anywhere along the frontline, while chipping in with goals and assists.
Eagles has 11 goals to his name this season - joint-top scorer with Chris Iwelumo - and he’s enjoying a goal battle: “Jay’s catching up as well now, he’s on 10.
“I was just pleased to get in double figures and if I don’t score another goal all season and Jay and Chris get 20 I’m happy - as long as we’re fighting to go up to the Premier League, I’ll be pleased with that.”