MIKE Jones will take charge of Burnley’s east Lancashire derby with Blackburn Rovers in the SkyBet Championship this weekend.
The Premier League referee will oversee the eagerly-anticipated second meeting of the campaign between the sides separated by 11 miles, at Turf Moor this Saturday lunchtime (KO 12:30 GMT).
He will be assisted by Select Group linesmen Andy Halliday and Andy Garratt, while Scott Duncan (Northumberland) will be the fourth official.
Jones, from Cheshire, will be in the middle for his fourth Championship game of the campaign.
But it will be the 47-year-old’s first experience of a passionate and hostile rivalry between two of the Football League’s founder members, who first met in September 1879.
Jones will hope for a similar performance to the experienced Keith Stroud, who managed Burnley’s 1-0 win at Ewood Park in October well.
It will be his first Clarets match since their 1-0 success at Aston Villa in May 2015, their final Premier League game before relegation.
Now, Sean Dyche’s team will be hoping to complete a league double over Rovers and boost their push to secure an automatic and immediate return to the top-flight.
It will, however, be a first taste of the fierce derby for Blackburn boss Paul Lambert in what will be a cauldron of noise at Turf Moor as Rovers look for a first win in six meetings over their arch rivals.
Chester-born whistler Jones has officiated 28 games in all competitions so far this term.
He has brandished 98 yellow cards and awarded nine penalties, with his only red card given to Newcastle’s Daryl Janmaat in their 2-0 defeat at Swansea back in August.
Having sent off 10 players in 34 matches in 2014-15, Jones has adopted a more lenient approach this term, in which he has overseen several high-profile games – including Liverpool’s 3-3 draw with Arsenal at Anfield last month.
He has not encountered Blackburn since a 1-1 draw against Wigan at the DW Stadium in January 2015.
Jones spent 11 years refereeing in the Football League before earning promotion to the Select Group and has since been in the middle for over 150 top-flight games.
He has been in charge of two finals at Wembley – the League Two play-off final in 2007 and FA Trophy in 2009 – and was fourth official for the 2010 Championship Play-Off Final, 2010 FA Community Shield and 2012 FA Cup Final.
Jones has been embroiled in his fair share of controversy in recent years, from the infamous beachball incident at the Stadium of Light in 2009 to giving a penalty against Leicester’s Wes Morgan when the ball struck his face at Anfield last season.