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Can Burton Reach the Championship?

While Leicester City are writing one of the stories of the season in the Premier League, another Midlands side are performing their own miracles in League One. Burton Albion are on the brink of promotion to the Championship, despite having only been promoted to the Football League in 2009.

The Pirelli Stadium has a capacity of less than 7,000, although next season it could be welcoming the likes of Aston Villa, Leeds United and Derby County. The games against Derby and Nottingham Forest would be particularly interesting. While Burton may be close geographically to the clubs, they have never been close to each other in the league pyramid before. That could all change next season.

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Burton’s story is all the more impressive when you consider that manager after manager has been poached from them. Nigel Clough moved to Derby before he could get them out of the Conference, Gary Rowett took over at Birmingham, and most recently Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was appointed as manager of QPR. And yet Burton continue to power on relentless, now back under the stewardship of the manager who started their rise up the leagues, Nigel Clough.

Clough himself will be eager to get back into the Championship. He put the foundations in place for Derby to push on and mount promotion challenges, and he can consider himself unlucky to be sacked as Sheffield United manager despite taking them to the Play-offs in League One and a FA Cup semi-final.

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Burton have also had to deal with their better players moving on. Billy Kee left back in 2014 to move to Scunthorpe, while in January Nasser El Khayati followed Hasselbaink to Loftus Road. However, captain John Mousinho, goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin and forward Lucas Akins have all stepped up to the plate this season to help guide Albion to the top of League One. While these players are experienced in the lower reaches of league football, the step up to Championship football should be a challenge they relish.

If Burton do get promoted they will be keen to avoid a similar fate to Yeovil Town. Like Burton, Yeovil quickly rose through the leagues to the Championship, but after being relegated from the Championship, they then suffered another relegation in their first season back in League One. For much of this season it looked as though they could lose their place in the football league, but new manager Darren Way has guided them away from the danger zone.

While Burton are in a strong position, Clough will no doubt stress that the job is not done yet. If they do get promoted to the Championship, Clough will be the ideal man to try and stabilise the club in the second tier, and from there Burton fans may well start dreaming of the Premier League.

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