FRANK Sinclair this week made his own bizarre contribution to Burnley's 500 Miles Club.

The Clarets defender had intended to settle down in front of the television with his family tonight and watch the Clarets do battle with Derby County.

A suspension handed down for a fifth booking, against Coventry in midweek, had led to manager Steve Cotterill awarding the hard-working stopper a few days off to travel back south.

However, Sinclair was forced to hurriedly change all his plans and race back up the M6 motorway in time for tonight's clash after an urgent telephone call from Turf Moor told him of an oversight.

Last summer, the Football Association changed the rules on suspensions, with automatic bans coming into force from the first day of this season.

However, players only miss the next competitive first team match if they receive a red card, while bans imposed for accumulating five yellow cards only come into force seven days after the fifth caution.

Micah Hyde and Michael Duff fell foul of the strict red card ruling earlier this season when both players received their marching orders

But somehow, Sinclair's delayed ban slipped through everyone's net - until manager Steve Cotterill uncovered the truth and ordered his defender to make the 250 mile trek back north just hours after arriving home!

"All of us forgot about the seven-day rule the other night," laughed Cotterill. "I did myself and Frank was certainly delighted after I'd given him two days off and then had to pull him back in on Wednesday!

"He thought he was going to get a nice couple of days off and a bit of sunshine back home, but instead we've had to drag him back up here!

"Having said that, when we called Frank he was delighted he wasn't going to miss the game in the end and, if I'm honest, we're all delighted because we don't want him to miss the league games.

"We are not liable to go on and win the Carling Cup, so we would rather Frank missed the cup game than a league game."

Certainly Burnley stand a better chance of keeping Derby at bay with Sinclair alongside

ever-present rock John McGreal at the heart of the defence.

Ten league goals conceded in 14 games tells its own story, and Cotterill insists the partnership has lived up to all of his expectations.

He added: "If you're going to start building a team you need a goalkeeper, two centre backs, and a striker who scores goals.

"In signing Danny (Coyne), Frank and John McGreal, and inheriting Robbie (Blake) and Ian (Moore), you've got players who can stop and score goals.

"Frank has been as good as anybody, and those two centre halves have really set the tone.

"It always pleases you when you bring people in that you don't feel you've wasted your money or time on and Frank has been brilliant.

"I remember he only came into the club an hour before the Everton game in pre-season and hasn't looked back since.

"He hasn't really exceeded expectations, because I knew he was a good player when I was at Leicester.

"The last five games of last season I thought Frank was fantastic in the Premiership, so I knew what I was getting, and he hasn't let me, anyone else or himself down one iota."

Tonight's game represents the third game in six days for Burnley, who get their first chance of the season to entertain Sky TV viewers.

And Cotterill feels sure his players will not want to make it a video nasty for their own personal viewing over the weekend.

He said: "We've been used to the heavy programme of games. It's been like that ever since day one and I think the lads are getting more accustomed to it.

"They will be fit and well and raring to go, and of course we've got the Sky cameras here as well.

"That's something different for them and I'm sure they will want to put on good performances for their video and DVD recorders!"