EX-CLARET Paul Fletcher has backed Burnley to return to the Premier League before Blackburn Rovers.

The former striker believes the Turf Moor outfit are now on a more stable footing than their bitter rivals, who he feels have been rocked since the takeover of Indian poultry giants Venky’s two years ago and will find it hard to recover from relegation last season.

Although the long-standing run without a win against Rovers continues, after Sam Vokes’ late header cancelled out Jordan Rhodes’ opener and earned a 1-1 draw for the Clarets, Fletcher feels it is only a matter of time before his old club get the upper hand with results too.

And in the long-term Fletcher feels that history will be repeated.

Over the years the Clarets and Rovers have traded places and divisions, and the 61-year-old expects that pattern to continue, with Burnley coming out on top for the first time since the early 1980s.

“I would think Burnley can get back into the Premier League before Blackburn Rovers,” he said.

“I think we are a better club in terms of structure, both of the club itself and of the team, and the management structure I think is better than Blackburn.

“Of course, I would say that wouldn’t I? But I really do believe it, and I think sooner or later it will be reflected in results as well.

“Sunday’s derby was nail-bitingly close. We’ve just got to keep nibbling away because we’ll probably have more opportunities to play against Blackburn Rovers over the coming years than has happened in recent history.

“In my day, in the 1970s, we were the stronger side that went into the top division, then that changed (in the 80s).

“Maybe it’s time for change again.”

But Fletcher admitted it was a long-term project.

“My view of Burnley is that it has never been a ‘get rich quick’ overnight situation. We put in long-term plans and I can see something that would be delivered,” he said.

“Blackburn Rovers have been in absolute chaos over the last few years and it’s hard to come out of that. A lot depends on whether the owners are wealthy enough or prepared to finance getting back into the Premier League.

“There are two ways of winning promotion from the Championship – buy your way out of scheme your way out.

“We have to scheme our way through because the club has never been prepared to go out and over-spend, or to have owners who are not fans of the club.

“If an injection of cash comes in there’s a chance of Blackburn doing better.

“I don’t think they will scheme their way out of the Championship with that team.

“They will have to buy their way out and I don’t know if Blackburn Rovers come under the title of ‘investor club’ with massive investments from foreign shores, or whether that’s all gone.”

In Sean Dyche, Fletcher believes Burnley have the manager to lead their charge.

“There is a positive vibe at the club,” he said. “The only thing Sean Dyche can do is win games.

“Everyone says he is a tough task-master and that’s what is needed in present day football, and that attitude seems to be coming through in their play.

“You have to fight your way out of the Championship, and Sean has made a great start.

“We aren’t conceding the amount of goals we were before he arrived.”