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Tarky Ready For Take-Off

Clarets defender looking for more as Premier League returns

17 August 2018

James Tarkowski is targeting another season of progress at Turf Moor as the Clarets prepare to launch their home Premier League campaign.

Last season’s seventh-place finish was Burnley’s best for 44 years.

And while Tarkowski isn’t predicting a top-six challenge, he doesn’t want last season’s achievements to be a one-off.

“The club’s moving forward,” said the central defender, who is starting his third full season as a Claret.

“The team always needs to progress. You look at what other teams are spending and every club is looking to move forward.

“Last year was a great season for me personally and for the team. But we don’t want to be a one-season wonder where people say Burnley were good that season and then fade away and no one talks about us again.

“We want keep pushing and moving forward. I’m not saying we’ve got to finish sixth or fifth because we finished seventh last time.

“But as long as we feel as a group a group that we’re progressing and moving forward, that’s the most important thing.”

Tarkowski certainly came of age as a top-flight performer last season as he started 31 times in the Premier League and earned a first England cap in March.

And 25-year-old, who got off to another solid start as the Clarets kicked off their league campaign with a 0-0 draw at Southampton last Sunday, also wants to kick on.

“It’s similar for me, really,” Tarkowski added. “I don’t want to be someone who had one good season in the Premier League and then’s never talked about again.

“I want to be around the England squad. I want to keep playing for Burnley and playing well.

“I love playing football, which is the most important thing really, and I enjoy playing my football here. If I can help the squad and help the team to do well, that’s what I want to here for and be involved in.”

The Clarets open at Turf Moor on Sunday against a Watford side that kicked off with a 2-0 home win over Brighton last Saturday.

And that’s likely to mean a re-union with former Clarets striker Andre Gray, who was in Javier Garcia’s starting line-up a week ago.

Gray left Burnley last August and scored just five league goals for the Hornets last season, with 15 of his 31 Premier League appearances coming from the bench.

But the 27-year-old – who scored 33 goals in 78 Burnley appearances – will not be under-estimated by the Clarets or Tarkowski, who knows him as well as anyone in the Clarets’ camp.

“I speak to him a lot. He’s a good lad,” said Tarkowski, who spent a season as Gray’s team-mate at Brentford when Gray’s goals fired the Bees into the Championship play-offs.

“He had a bit of a difficult time last season and didn’t play as much as he’d like.

“But I know ‘Dre’s strengths. I have played against him a lot, especially in training. I know what I’ll be coming up against, if selected.”

Gray, meanwhile, is looking forward to his return to Turf Moor, where he is likely to partner Troy Deeney in attack following a productive pre-season campaign.

He told Watford's website: “It’s always good to go back and see some old faces. I had a great time there, a successful time there, so it’s good to go back and it’s going to be a good game.

“It’s one of the clubs that’s got the most stability in terms of the structure and the way they work.

"A lot of it is just consistency. They train the same way every day and it the same format every day, so it’s no surprise.

“I think everyone knows it’s horrible to go and play there, so it’s difficult for other teams, and they’ve picked up a lot of results doing that.”

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