We want to be back in the play off places

Last updated : 16 January 2009 By Tony Scholes
With Preston having taken our place in the top six last week with their win at Wolves, both managers are fully aware of the importance of this game and Alan Irvine has described it as his biggest game yet between the two clubs.

"It's the biggest Preston v Burnley game since I've been here, but I wouldn't say it's the biggest in history by any means," he said. "We're looking upon this as an important game and all derbies are like that.

"We know it doesn't have quite the same meaning as a Blackpool derby, but at the same time it is a massively important game for everybody, the players, the staff and the fans, and it obviously has extra meaning because of where the two teams are in the table.

"It's been a difficult start to the year, there's no question about that. So far it's been a pleasing start, albeit that we're disappointed to be out of the FA Cup, but we're proud of the way we performed overall."

Commenting on the number of games we've had recently he added: "When you listen to what Mick McCarthy said after last weekend's game, he actually stated that he was disappointed to have come into the game off the back of a long gap.

"I think that by playing a lot of games in a short period of time, as Burnley have, you get battle hardened and tougher mentally. I think their players will certainly be fit enough to cope with the demands of playing a couple of games a week.

"I can't see the number of games having any real effect on Burnley. It's only when you get injuries or suspensions that it seems to have an effect. That's had some impact on Burnley, but overall I can't see them being at too great an advantage or disadvantage.

"Billy Barr and I went down to see them at Tottenham and they were fantastic, during the first half in particular they were top class. I'd much rather travel to see a team in person than watch them on TV because you get to see a much bigger picture of how they play.

"The second half may not have started so well for them in that game, but once they'd weathered the storm of Tottenham's four goals in 21 minutes, or whatever it was, Burnley actually had some good chances, and could well have come away with only a 4-2 or even a 4-3 defeat to take into the second leg."

Owen Coyle, who does have injuries and suspensions to contend with, believes it will be a very close encounter. "There is very little to choose between the two sides and that's born out in the league positions.

"Preston had a magnificent result at Wolves last week and leapfrogged us in the table, so it's going to take a massive effort on Saturday, because Preston are in terrific form.

"But we want to be back in the play off places. We're only a point behind them and bear in mind that after four games we were eight points behind, so that shows how far we have come.

"We'll take a lift from beating QPR in the FA Cup the other night and if we can take that desire into Saturday we can go to Deepdale and win the game."

Coyle added: "The games are certainly coming thick and fast. If you are going to be successful in cup competitions that's going to be the case, but we certainly wouldn't swap it, that's for sure."