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Page last updated at 15:25 GMT, Monday, 29 March 2010 16:25 UK

Cardiff's bargain buy Chris Burke hailed by Dave Jones

Coca Cola Championship
Venue: Cardiff City Stadium Date: Tuesday, 30 March Kick-off: 1945 BST
Coverage: Full commentary on BBC Radio Wales (SE FM) & live text commentary online and score updates on BBC Radio 5 live and BBC Sport website

Chris Burke
Cardiff City winger Chris Burke has scored 10 goals this season

Cardiff City boss Dave Jones joked he was branded a "thief" for taking form winger Chris Burke on a free transfer.

The 26-year-old scored his third goal in four games in Cardiff's 2-1 win at Crystal Palace on Saturday to move them up to fourth in the Championship.

Jones signed the Scottish international from Glasgow Rangers in January 2009 and Jones joked: "A lot of people from Glasgow have written to me.

"They are calling me a thief because they think I stole him off them!"

Burke is one of a host of bargain basement signings in Jones' Cardiff squad that have inspired the Welsh club to the brink of the play-offs and a shot at Premier League promotion.

He suffered an injury-plagued career at Rangers and also endured a long time out with illness - missing the whole 2004/05 season with a virus after fainting on the pitch at Aberdeen on the opening day.

Burke recovered to star for Rangers in their Champions League showdowns with Inter Milan, Porto and Villarreal but suffered further injury problems before joining Cardiff last January for a "new challenge."

Burke is a livewire and an integral part of what we do. His work-rate is phenomenal

Cardiff City manager Dave Jones

The two-times capped Scotsman has excelled in his first full season in English football and his work-rate, direct running, seven assists and ten goals have been a major factor of Cardiff's push to fourth in the Championship table.

"Burke is a livewire and an integral part of what we do," said Jones.

"He has been popping up with goals all season, not just of late.

"He has been consistent all season, one of our most consistent players and when you get a lot of consistency in the team, you do well.

"Burke's work-rate is phenomenal. He works hard at covering and covers a great distance during the game. That's not just going forward but also getting back and hopefully that will continue.

"Burke was signed for nothing and a lot of people questioned why we brought him in.

"He had a bit of a torrid time at Rangers because of illness and injuries but when you strip away that, he had some fantastic games for them.

"I was fortunate enough to get him on a free and he is now delivering what we expected.

"He got a bit stale and found it hard and maybe that is why he picked up injuries and he was ill for a long time. He found it hard and he never really got over that to get back to where he was.

Chris Burke
Cardiff City winger Chris Burke has scored 10 goals this season

"Sometimes a change is good and that has been the case for Chris. Their loss is our gain. And sometimes you only appreciate someone if you haven't got them any more."

Burke has been an ever-present this season - starting 35 and coming on in four of Cardiff's 39 league games this season - and is expected to start in their crucial clash with play-off rivals Leicester City at the Cardiff City Stadium on Tuesday.

Cardiff, gunning for their fourth win in five games against Leicester, suffered final-day heartache last season as the Bluebirds missed out on a play-off place due to a one-goal difference.

Now Jones hopes his side can transform the hurt from last season's disappointment into determination to "go one better" this campaign.

"Everyone was expecting us not to do anything this season because of what went on last season," said Jones.

"But we have still got to achieve what we didn't do last year.

"And if we go one step further it means we will continue the gradual improvement at this football club over the last three or four years.

"The expectation level here far outweighs what we should be doing bearing in mind the size of the squad and the money we have to spend.

"We spent good money on Michael Chopra but the rest of the squad has not had a lot spent on it."

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see also
Cardiff 2-1 Leicester
30 Mar 10 |  Championship
Cardiff in 'ugly' play-off push
27 Mar 10 |  Cardiff
Crystal Palace 1-2 Cardiff
27 Mar 10 |  Championship
Jones anger at expectation levels
23 Mar 10 |  Cardiff
Burke sees Cardiff as fresh start
10 Jan 09 |  Cardiff
Rangers reeling over Burke injury
27 Sep 06 |  Rangers
Virus rules out Burke
25 Aug 04 |  Rangers
Burke signs Rangers extension
02 Jan 04 |  Rangers
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales

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Leicester Mercury Leicester City suffer another slice of frustration - 1 hr ago
Times Online Champions League: Wayne Rooney on the mark again for United - 19 hrs ago JONES LAUDS 'SUPERB' BURKE - 25 hrs ago


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