Sean Dyche believes the experience of coming out on top in big games this season will stand his side in good stead at Blackburn.
The Clarets boss insists the weight of expectation in Sunday’s East Lancashire derby is on Rovers, who are desperate to extend their long unbeaten run against their old rivals.
And Dyche has told his players to go and play with the freedom that has earned them eye-catching results all season long in the Championship.
He said: “We are aware of what it means and we are aware of the fact it’s a big game. But we’ve had a number of big occasions this season, going back to early season when QPR came to our place.
Ings on target in the win over v QPR
“Then we had Reading come to our place, we were away at Leicester on the TV and away at Forest, away at Brighton and QPR on the TV.
“More recently, Derby and Forest, so we’ve had some real experience this season and we hope that adds to the players understanding and belief in what they do, because regardless of the size of the game we have delivered very good performances.
Jones scores in the victory over Derby
“We go into the game very confident and in good spirits, knowing that really the expectation is on Blackburn because of the history.
“We haven’t beaten them in 30 years or so, so you know there’s a lot of expectation on them and they’ll be feeling they need to win again to keep that record going.
“We can go in there with freedom and we want to play with freedom anyway. There is tremendous energy in the side, good organisation and we feel that we’ve got real ability, so we’re looking forward to the game.”
Dyche has savoured the electric East Lancashire derby atmosphere now on three occasions, with each game finish all-square at 1-1.
Vokes scores v Blackburn in 2012
Following Sam Vokes’ deserved leveller at Turf Moor in December 2012, which stopped a run of three successive defeats to their arch-rivals, the Clarets have twice come within a whisker of turning the tables.
David Dunn’s controversial stoppage time equaliser at Ewood 12 months ago denied the Clarets an away victory, while Junior Stanislas’s scorcher in the first fixture this season was cancelled out by a late, fortuitous Jordan Rhodes leveller.
Dyche added: “We have delivered three very good performances in my time against Blackburn.
“I have been not disappointed, but I would say surprised that we haven’t got the win.
Stanislas on target earlier this season
“A couple of things have gone against us, but you can’t guarantee that. What you can guarantee is your performance - and we look to go again.
“On reflection of the games we think we should have put this record to bed, but they’re nothing to do with this next game.
“The form book always goes out of the window with these sort of games. In my experience it’s almost like a cup game because it is that local derby.
“On the other hand they’ve just lost 4-0 at home so they’ll be thinking about that.
"We’ve just had another really big, really important result and performance, so we’re certainly in confident mood.
“There are never any guarantees, but we’re looking in good shape and were ready to go to Blackburn and when that whistle blows this team will be ready to give another performance, I’m sure of that.”
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