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Bardo's Keeping The Dream Alive

Clarets' defender hopes to reward fans and keep run going

22 August 2018

Phil Bardsley wants to keep the dream alive by claiming another scalp in Europe.

The Clarets have made it through to the play-off round of the Europa League after knocking out Aberdeen and Istanbul Basaksehir.

And Bardsley has no intention of stopping here with multiple Greek Super League champions Olympiakos standing in Burnley’s way of a place in the group stages of the competition.

“We’ve not flown three or four hours to enjoy the sights of Athens. We here are to take part in a game and win the tie and hopefully get a good result to take back to Turf Moor,” the Clarets’ defender told a press conference 24 hours before the first leg.

“There are a lot of games, domestically and Europe, if we go through this stage but it’s something we’re looking forward to. It’s been a while since the club was in Europe and we want that to continue and the only way to do that is to win the next two legs.

“Teams have struggled being in the Europa League, but we don’t see it like that. It’s a challenge and one we’re looking forward to.

“We want to win every game that we play and we want to enjoy this journey. It’s not every season you get the chance to play in Europe. We want to keep the dream alive and the fans touring Europe with us.”

Around 1,000 Burnley supporters have made the trip to Greece at short notice with a crowd approaching 25,000 expected inside the Karaiskakis Stadium.

And Bardsley believes the backing of the Clarets’ fans could make a difference as Sean Dyche’s men face a side steeped in European history and with a formidable home record.

He added: “It goes a long way with the players. It’s difficult to get direct flights to Athens from Manchester so they’ve had to go via Zurich and certain parts of Europe to get over here.

“They give us that extra edge in a game when we’re struggling, we can hear them getting behind us.

“That’s what it’s all about, giving them the chance to experience games in Europe.

“We gave them that last year by finish seventh and here we are in Athens.

“I hope they’re looking forward to the game and I hope we can get a result for them.”

Bardsley has played a key role in helping the Clarets get this far, playing both legs in the last round against Basaksehir when two clean sheets and extra-time winner from Jack Cork at Turf Moor took Burnley through.

And the former Manchester United full-back, 33, is looking to extend an unbeaten record in Europe from his time at Old Trafford and a loan spell at Rangers.

“I’ve always enjoyed playing in Europe against the top teams,” said the former Scotland international.

“It brings a different feel from the teams you play week-in, week-out in the Premier League; styles of football change, players, the environment, the crowd.

“I’m looking forward to pitting our wits against some very good players and hopefully I can keep that unbeaten record going.”

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