Burley on target

By Derek Davis,Chief Football WriterGEORGE Burley believes his target of making Derby County as good as Ipswich Town is almost within sight.The 4-1 hammering suffered by the Rams in May 2003 showed how much work was needed and, almost two years later, Burley sees light at the end of a long, dark tunnel.

By Derek Davis,

Chief Football Writer

GEORGE Burley believes his target of making Derby County as good as Ipswich Town is almost within sight.

The 4-1 hammering suffered by the Rams in May 2003 showed how much work was needed and, almost two years later, Burley sees light at the end of a long, dark tunnel.


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That defeat was the seventh and last game in temporary charge at Pride Park and, since taking over on a full-time basis, he has made rapid strides in improving the ailing Rams.

Burley is convinced the gap in terms of quality and the squad has closed and believes this highlights the progress his side has made in the past year.

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He said: “Ipswich were miles ahead of us then and they deserved to beat us twice at Portman Road last season.

“We beat Ipswich early this season and, while I still think we are behind them as far as quality of squad and team is concerned, we have caught up some in the past year.

“It is good to be challenging near them in the league, which we did not anticipate doing at the start of the season, but we're not getting carried away because we still have a bit to do.”

Burley had failed to beat Ipswich in four attempts before the 3-2 victory at Pride Park in August.

Now the two clubs meet today with both chasing promotion, either automatic or through the play-offs.

A dream scenario for Burley, both as a Town fan and creditor, would be a Derby victory and a place in the Premiership next season for the Rams and Ipswich.

He said: “That would be nice but, whoever wins or loses today, I don't think it will determine their season and promotion hopes. Things can still change quite a bit during the run-in.”

Burley still describes going back to Ipswich as “more than special”.

He added: “When you join a club at 15, play there for 14 years, win the FA Cup and UEFA Cup with them, and then spend seven-and-a-half years as a manager, of course it has to be special.”

But there will be no room for sentiment. Burley is fully focused on securing points to strengthen Derby's play-off hopes.

He said: “We face a tough game but anybody can beat anybody in this division, and our away form is very good.

“We are also unbeaten in nine and doing well. We have got to try to keep that going right to the end in order to reach the play-offs.”

The Rams have already won at Wigan, Reading, West Ham and QPR this season and boast the second-best away record in the Championship behind Wigan.

derek.davis@eadt.co.uk

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