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That was the 0-0 draw against Ipswich and I don’t think many would have predicted three away wins in a week before our return to the Turf, certainly not once we’d gone behind in the FA Cup at Middlesbrough in a first half that they dominated.

That was the first goal in those three away games and the last was scored by Alan Judge for Brentford. Between those goals we scored ten times without reply and from eight different scorers. Only Joey Barton, with his first Burnley goals, and George Boyd netted twice.

We need to improve on results against promotion rivals says Joey Barton
We need to improve on results against promotion rivals says Joey Barton

A 2-1 win in the cup was followed by the 5-0 win in Milton Keynes in an empty stadium and then the 3-1 win at Brentford a week last Friday when we turned in a sensational first half performance that Sean Dyche described as being as good as anything since he became manager.

So, back home, and our latest goalscoring sensation Barton, who was named in a Burnley squad for the first time in the game at Derby when he was an unused substitute, is happy with how things have gone since that difficult December period.

When he scored at Brentford it was the first time he’d scored in successive games for a decade. For the statisticians, he scored for Manchester City in a 4-1 home win against Birmingham on 17th December 2005 and followed it up with another as they went down 4-3 at Wigan on Boxing Day.

He did, however, score two for Newcastle in one game, a 4-4 draw against Arsenal at St. James’ Park in February 2011.

He said: “Andre has obviously scored a hat load of goals and in any successful campaign you need everybody to weigh in with their fair share. Hopefully I can break that record and score three in a row for the first time in my career.”

On tonight’s game he added: “It’s a good benchmark for us because we’ve played most of the top sides away from home and we need to improve on results against our promotion rivals. Monday is an opportunity to do just that.

Barton made his debut for the Clarets as a substitute in the home game against Reading. Six days later he got his first start and has been in the side for every league game since. That is unlikely to change tonight.

With no reports of injuries in the Burnley camp, I think it is fair to suggest that we might field the same team that drew at Brentford.

If so, we would line up: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, Michael Keane, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, George Boyd, Joey Barton, David Jones, Scott Arfield, Sam Vokes, Andre Gray. Subs from: Danijel Nizic, Tendayi Darikwa, Michael Duff, Dean Marney, Fredrik Ulvestad, Matt Taylor, Michael Kightly, Rouwen Hennings, Chris Long.

Derby have been there or thereabouts for much of the last three seasons. In 2013/14 they kept on our coat tails to finish third some eight points behind us and then lost the play-off final against QPR with that late, late goal costing them.

Last season they looked certainties for much of the time and went into March on top of the league. But things, for whatever reason, fell apart. They picked up only 12 points from their last 13 games with only two wins against relegated pair Wigan and Blackpool.

Even then, they went into the final day in the top six but a 3-0 home defeat at the hands of Reading saw them drop to a season low of eighth and another season in the Championship.

They’ve made big changes in both the boardroom and the dressing room. Mel Morris became the sole owner of the club and on the playing side there were some big signings. Players such as Tom Ince, Darren Bent, Scott Carson, Andreas Weimann, Jacob Butterfield and Bradley Johnson arrived as well as our captain Jason Shackell. Even this month they’ve spent nigh on £4 million on the captures of Abdoul Camara from Angers and Reading’s Nick Blackman.

Three successive wins, the last of them on Boxing Day, took them to the top of the league for the second time this season, but since they’ve picked up only two points from four games.

They’ve drawn 2-2 at Leeds and 1-1 at home to Reading but have been beaten 2-0 at Middlesbrough and just over a week ago suffered a 3-0 home defeat against Birmingham.

Derby have three former players in their squad. Besides Shackell there are captain Chris Baird and goalkeeper Lee Grant who rejoined the Rams when he left us at the end of the 2012/13 season.

Grant has played the last nine games due to an injury to Carson, but Clement has a decision to make tonight with Carson fit again. “It’s a difficult decision,” he said. “What I will do is leave it up until the last training session, speak to my staff and whatever happens the person that plays in goal will be in good mood, good confidence.”

Clement has also confirmed that he will be continuing with the 4-3-3 system that has served them well.

For the Birmingham game they lined up: Lee Grant, Cyrus Christie, Richard Keogh, Jason Shackell, Stephen Warnock, George Thorne, Jeff Hendrick, Bradley Johnson, Tom Ince, Jonny Russell, Nick Blackman. Subs: Scott Carson, Ryan Shotton, Chris Baird, Andreas Weimann, Jacob Butterfield, Abdoul Camara, Chris Martin.

A minute’s silence will be observed ahead of tonight’s game to remember all Clarets who passed away during 2015.

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