Blake backs Burnley to show survival instinct

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The Independent Football

The Burnley striker Robbie Blake is confident his side can take the first step towards safety tonight when they face Stoke City at Turf Moor. A victory would lift the team out of the relegation zone and give the players a much-needed boost ahead of a further home game against fellow strugglers Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday.

Burnley have been written off already by many observers and tipped for a quick return to the Championship. But Blake, 34, is adamant they can prove their critics wrong. He said: "People are writing us off but there are 10 games to go. It is a bit harsh. We are not expected to stay in this league but we know we are good enough to do that. It's the teams in and around us who are under pressure.

"We always create chances and score goals. We have good attacking players. That's what we have got to build on. It is a massive week. If we can get three points against Stoke it will set us up nicely for Wolves. We know we are good enough to turn teams over at home."

Blake knows Burnley will have their believes are under-rated. "They don't get the recognition they deserve," said the striker. "They have players who can pass the ball. They are a very difficult side to beat but as well as that they play football. We are aware it will be very competitive."

Burnley striker Steven Fletcher faces a late fitness test ahead of tonight's game after missing the defeat by Arsenal at the weekend. The £3m club record signing from Hibernian suffered a broken hand on international duty with Scotland and could play with a cast. While Fletcher remains a concern, the manager, Brian Laws, is pleased to have midfielder Graham Alexander and striker Martin Paterson back after injury.

Laws believes Alexander, 38, and Paterson 22, bring different, enduring qualities to the team. "Paterson is an enthusiastic player. He is a lad who would chase an empty crisp packet on a windy day, " said the Burnley manager. "Alexander has the experience and know-how. He is not going to chase the empty crisp packet because he cannot. But he senses danger and you cannot put a price on that."