THE derby is so close Sean Dyche can smell it. He wants to taste victory tomorrow.
For a win would not only be a first for the Clarets in almost 34 years against Blackburn Rovers, there is the added incentive of leapfrogging their biggest rivals – and Championship promotion favourites – in the table.
Although Burnley go into the game at full strength, with midfielder Dean Marney available after serving a one-match ban in midweek, Dyche is aware they will be widely regarded as underdogs against newly relegated Rovers, who boast a multi-million squad.
Top scorer Jordan Rhodes alone set the club back around £8million in August.
His Clarets counterpart, Charlie Austin, was a fraction of the cost at around £1.3m.
But Dyche believes there are factors in Burnley's favour this weekend, and not just finances.
“They’ve come out of the Premier League and with our 33-year record without a win, that adds to the pressure on them. The fact is they become favourites and the expectation is on them,” he said.
“We’re the slight underdog in terms of laymen looking at the game but we all know how many times the underdog comes out on top.
“Never underestimate the loud bark of a dog that is looking to prove a point and I think there’s part of that.”
And Dyche expects to benefit from a full house too.
“I’ve played at Turf Moor on good occasions and it’s always had a feel to it,” he said.
“To have it full is going to be an experience in itself. The vibrancy and the smell of it, I love it.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what it’s like full.
“It’s always great to play in derbies across the country, never more than this one as I’ve been made well aware of the importance of it with the fans and the feeling around and it hasn’t come around so often over the last 30 years or so.
“The feelings are the same as a player and a manager – any connection you have with the club really. You still want the best outcome, which is a win. It's what every Burnley fan wants too.
“It wasn’t put to me as bluntly as ‘Just beat Blackburn!’ when I came in but a number of people motioned towards it.
“They were saying, ‘There’s a big game coming up in a month or so.’ I was like, ‘Well the first one against Wolves will do me.’ “There are certain fixtures that supporters look out for and this is one of them. I knew about it and I’m really looking forward to experiencing it.”
Only a few of the current Clarets, including Michael Duff, Martin Paterson and goalkeeper Brian Jensen, have been involved in this fixture before. It will be a first for many, and Dyche has urged all of his players to play the game and not the occasion.
“We’ve been trying to build a mentality about what we do. We tell them about the opposition but it’s about our mentality and there’s been real positive signs about how its changing for the better,” he said.
“You can never guarantee people will get carried away. You can play it up or down or mix it around but eventually you go out on the pitch and the whistle blows. It always comes down to the players delivering at the end of the day and we can only prod and point them in the right direction.
“You still need to deliver quality not just blood and guts, so that’s what you’re going to have to deliver.”