James Tarkowski is determined to prove he is a Premier League player and hold onto his first-team shirt at Turf Moor.
But the big defender knows he can’t let his standards slip if he is to be the Clarets’ permanent replacement for Michael Keane.
Keane’s big-money move to Everton opened the door for Tarkowski to start the season in his preferred centre-back role.
And after helping the Clarets make the perfect start with an impressive performance in their opening-day win at Chelsea, the former Oldham and Brentford man is in pole position to strike up a new-look pairing with Ben Mee.
“I knew there would be an opportunity there. I don’t think it was guaranteed to be my spot,” said Tarkowski.
“There was an opportunity and I’ve worked hard to try and take that. Fortunately, so far I am in the side but I have to keep performing to the best of my ability to keep that spot.
“I have to be at it every game. It’s a difficult league and there are some top, top players in this league so I’ve got to perform and make sure that I prove I’m the man to be in that position.
“People are going to have question marks over me, saying am I good enough to play at this level?
“This will be my first real opportunity to prove it, so that’s my job.
James Tarkowski has helped the Clarets win two of their last three away games
“I can’t expect the manager to keep players in the team just because he’s loyal to them.
“It’s down to me to perform and prove that I should be in there on performance.
“It’s down to me to do my job and the lads in the team to do theirs. Put that all together makes a good performance and that’s where the points come from.”
Tarkowski, who joined the Clarets mid-way through their 2015/16 Championship title-winning season, admits he made more appearances than he expected last season after featuring 19 times in the Premier League.
Only four were starts as Keane and Mee continued their proven partnership.
But ‘Tarks’ finally got a chance when injury disrupted that pairing, with one of his four starts at the end of the season coming as Burnley secured the point that guaranteed their top-flight status in a 2-2 draw at home to West Bromwich Albion.
The Baggies are back at Turf Moor on Saturday as Burnley open their home programme and Tarkowski hopes it will mark the start of another home run.
The 24-year-old added: “It will be nice to get back there. Obviously last season was very positive at home and we would like to repeat that.
“At home last season we picked up some great results; a few gritty ones where we held out 1-0 and a few where we scored late goals and showed our character.
“We will take them either way. It will be interesting to get started again this week and hopefully get another positive result.”