Gary Rowell column - Sunderland clash with Burnley is huge

Santiago Vergini and Burnley's George Boyd
Santiago Vergini and Burnley's George Boyd
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SUNDERLAND play fellow strugglers Burnley on Saturday – two teams that couldn’t be closer in the league.

Both clubs have the same points tally, while just a single goal better goal difference puts Sunderland ahead of the Clarets in the Premier League table.

This game represents a huge opportunity to move up the table for Sunderland, but as every fan knows, we’re just as likely to spurn these chances than take advantage of them.

Burnley will feel exactly the same, knowing that it’s a chance to take points off a team around them, and that’s why this game has huge importance for both clubs.

It took a while for Burnley to adapt to the Premier League after their promotion last season, but after a slow start, they’re looking more at ease in the top flight.

They are out of the bottom three and if that’s where they are at the end of the season, then considering their budget and resources, Sean Dyche will be in the running for Manager of the Year.

Sunderland’s ambition at the start of the season should have been far more than just keeping out of the drop zone, but here we are again staring down the barrel at yet another relegation scrap.

At least, we’ve got experience of this sort of situation and know how to get out of it.

Burnley are not a team full of stars, but what they do have is great team spirit, and Dyche has them organised and hard working.

In Danny Ings, they also have a player on the radar of many Premier League clubs and he along with Ashley Barnes have scored valuable goals to earn points for Burnley lately.

Saying that, in their last game, Burnley threw away a two-goal lead when losing to Crystal Palace and that’s the sort of defeat which is never good for dressing room confidence and morale.

This Saturday’s game is the first in a sequence of home games that are very winnable and Gus Poyet will know better than anybody the need to make them count.