AS a boyhood Liverpool fan who spent more than 10 years on the books of Everton, Hope Akpan knows all about the rivalry that exists between the Merseyside neighbours.

But, although he has only been a Blackburn Rovers player for just over two months, he expects tomorrow’s Lancashire derby to be on another level.


And Scouser Akpan, who signed a two-year deal with Rovers after leaving Reading in August, is champing at the bit to get a first taste of it.

The powerful midfielder said: “I’m a northern boy, I’m from Liverpool, everyone knows about Liverpool and Everton, but I’ve heard the Blackburn-Burnley derby is fiercer than that.

“So I’m excited to play in it and hopefully I’ll be playing in this derby for quite a few years.”

And Akpan, who has made an impressive start to life at Ewood Park, says his anticipation is shared by his team-mates.

The 24-year-old said: “The boys are excited – we know how much it means to the fans and what a local derby is. We are going to be ready, we are going to be prepared.

“We can guarantee the atmosphere at Ewood is going to be rocking so as players they’re the games you want to play in and want to perform in.

“We are going to do our best and make sure we perform and get the right result on Saturday.”

The Clarets will go into the game 10 points clear of Rovers after winning six and drawing two of their previous nine matches.

But with Gary Bowyer’s side having extended their unbeaten home run to five games on Wednesday with a 0-0 draw with pre-season title favourites Derby County, Akpan is confident.

He said: “The gaffer has said to us we’ve got nothing to fear in this league and when the boys go out we feel that we can take on anyone, especially at Ewood Park with the atmosphere the fans can create.

“We know if we turn up, and keep our discipline, we’ve got the players who can show flashes of quality.

“So we’re going to go into the Burnley game looking for the three points.”