Burnley could clinch promotion on Saturday and it would be thoroughly deserved

Burnley

After being dominant in the division all season long, Burnley can finally gain automatic promotion with a win on Saturday.

Even the most optimistic Burnley fans wouldn't have thought that in mid-April they could manage to clinch a return to the Premier League after a four-year absence. However that is looking like a real possibility for The Clarets now, and if not tomorrow then it will happen soon enough.

They face a home tie against Middlesbrough tomorrow and they go into the match against Aitor Karanka's team knowing that three points and anything less than a win for Derby County would see them promoted alongside Leicester City.

Derby themselves are strong favourites in a home match against Huddersfield Town however, so Sean Dyche may have to wait until next Friday to breathe a sigh of relief. It would certainly be a memorable Good Friday if Burnley do have to wait until next week, and they clinch promotion away to Lancashire rivals Blackpool.

QPR and Derby have pushed them close all the way through the season but whilst they dropped off the pace, Burnley continued marching on.

Dyche has done a monumental job at Turf Moor and credit has to go to him given that many fans were surprised to see him given a chance at Burnley. He had done an admirable job at Watford; his first managerial job, before he was shunted out by the new owners and replaced by Gianfranco Zola. He took Watford to 11th in the Championship in his only year in charge, which was their highest position for four years.

When Eddie Howe departed Burnley in October 2012, there were many other bigger names linked to the role but Burnley plumped for 'The Ginger Mourinho'. He hasn't had the biggest of budgets to work with, and Burnley have a fairly small squad. Injuries have hit them hard in recent weeks but the battle was already won. If injuries had been a regular occurrence throughout the season then the league table could have shown a different story.

As it is, you could name Dyche's starting eleven every week because it has barely changed and he has stuck with a winning formula. The players have all been pulling in the right direction and credit should go to all of them despite Danny Ings and Sam Vokes taking the majority of the plaudits.

This has been a big season particularly for Vokes after showing promise as a youngster but then failing to progress at Wolves and at numerous clubs on loan. His partnership with Ings has taken the Championship by storm and is the league's very own SAS combination.

Scott Arfield was struggling to get in the Huddersfield team last season but has been instrumental for The Clarets, and with eight goals all season is their third top goalscorer. Tom Heaton has been an ever-present and has only ever once before played this amount of games in a single season. Last year he was relegated with Bristol City from the Championship but this year will be exiting the league in the right direction.

Promotion to the top flight will see Burnley add depth to their squad but I for one hope their strong, consistent team this season gets a fair crack at the Premier League because against all the odds they have surprised everyone in the Championship.

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