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Tarky Aims To Reign Again At Palace

Back where it all began for Clarets defender as Burnley look for lift-off again

12 January 2018

James Tarkowski hopes a return trip to Crystal Palace can signal lift-off again for him and the Clarets.

Tarkowski made his full Premier League debut at Selhurst Park at the end of April after injury broke up the Michael Keane-Ben Mee central defensive axis.

The imposing centre-back didn’t put a foot wrong as Burnley secured their first away win of the season and took a major step towards guaranteeing top-flight survival.

Tarkowski stayed in the side and had started every league game since, successfully filling the boots of the departed Keane, until suspension and a hand operation kept him out of Burnley’s three games over Christmas and a slight groin problem forced him to miss last Saturday’s FA Cup exit at Manchester City.

But fresh from signing a new four-and-a-half-year deal at Turf Moor, the 25-year-old should be fit to return at Palace on Saturday as he looks to resume the form that saw him and his defensive colleagues play such a big part in Burnley’s outstanding first half of the season.

“Your first Premier League start. I think everyone would remember that quite fondly,” recalled Tarkowski, who was back for the Clarets' last league game on New Year's Day .

“That day kick-started something good here for me. It was a great result, a clean sheet and sort of secured our position in the Premier League.

“It continued from there and I picked up quite a few starts and some good performances.

“There have been a lot of games over Christmas and I have missed out on quite a few, through a little niggle here and there, the suspension and breaking my hand.

“It’s not been ideal, but I’m through that now and hopefully I can get back to the way I was doing and crack on from there.”

Tarkowski’s retrospective ban followed a clash with Glenn Murray in the Clarets’ 0-0 draw at Brighton in mid-December, which ended a prolific return of 19 points gained from nine games.

Since then, Sean Dyche’s men have taken just two points from four games.

But they matched both Manchester United – due at Turf Moor a week on Saturday for the return meeting – and Liverpool during that run over the festive holiday programme.

And Tarkowski is looking forward to taking on a Palace side revived by former England boss Roy Hodgson – who has overseen just one defeat in 11 league games – as the Clarets look to get back to winning ways.

“They had a difficult start, but they’ve picked up since then and picked up some really good points against some good teams,” added the former Brentford and Oldham defender, who joined Burnley two years ago this month.

“It will be a difficult challenge at the weekend but something a team like us relishes week-in, week-out.

“We had a difficult Christmas period with the games we played. But we picked up some good points and were unfortunate in other games not to get more out of them.

“Hopefully, we can start a nice little run going in the two games and then have a little break and a bit of rest and look forward to the games beyond that.”

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