Duff believes the gap has closed

Old rivals: Michael Duff challenges Blackburn's Leon Best in the 1-1 draw at Ewood Park last season
Old rivals: Michael Duff challenges Blackburn's Leon Best in the 1-1 draw at Ewood Park last season
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Now in his 10th season at Turf Moor, Clarets defender Michael Duff hopes to taste victory over Blackburn for the first time tomorrow.

Duff played in both games against Premier League Rovers in the FA Cup in his first campaign at the club, as Blackburn snatched a replay victory at the death at Ewood Park.

He featured in the second of two meetings in the top flight, a 1-0 defeat at Turf Moor in 2010, before starting both 1-1 draws last season.

The 35-year-old would love to make it sixth-time lucky, but he feels the gap has closed significantly between the sides over the last decade: “The teams have got closer.

“In my first derby, in the FA Cup, they were in the Premier League and we were in the Championship.

“We got promoted to play them in the Premier League but there was still a big gulf - there still is now with wages, but it was bigger then.

“But last year proved we are a lot closer to them now.

“It was the first time we’d finished above them in the league for a few years.

“The clubs have become closer since I first joined.

“It would have been a real upset if we beat them in my first game, but if we were to win one of the games last year, it wouldn’t have been seen as that.”

Last season saw Burnley come within seconds of a first win over the old enemy in 34 years at Ewood Park, and Duff looked back on the two Championship meetings: “We were unlucky. I thought we played well in both of them.

“Paul Robinson’s performance in the first half at our place, he was outstanding. But then you could turn around and say we scored in the last minute and we were lucky to get a point. But it was the least that we deserved.

“It was the same in the second one, we played very well for an hour there and then BenMee’s sending off changed the shape of the game.

“We sat in and defended for our lives. To concede in the 94th/95th minute was disappointing - more so when you saw the pictures of the equaliser afterwards, clearly off-side.”

But he relishes the occasions, and added: “You’ve just got to enjoy it. These are the sort of games you play football for. “We’re lucky enough to get paid for what we love doing.

“They are special games with a special atmosphere.”