Steven Defour says missing the climax to the Clarets’ best Premier League season has left him extra motivated to do well when the new campaign starts.
Defour played a big part in Burnley’s push towards a top-seven finish and a place in the Europa League with his performance in the first two thirds of last season.
Sean Dyche’s side put 34 points on the board while Defour was an ever-present before a knee injury sustained in January ended his season early as the Clarets went on to secure their highest league placing since 1974.
The midfield schemer required surgery to rectify the problem but is now heading back towards full fitness and is eager to make up for lost time when the 2018/19 campaign gets under way.
“It was frustrating because I was playing good and the team was doing good,” said Defour, who is backing the Clarets to make another big impact next term.
“I wanted to finish that season because it was quite a special season for everybody.
“To not be able to do it was quite hard and to see the team play on television wasn’t the nicest moment.
“I’m really motivated because I feel like I’ve been too long on the sidelines, so I’m really looking forward to it.
“Since I’ve been here we’ve done nothing but improving and I hope we can do the same next year.
“It doesn’t mean ending higher than seventh position. If every individual can do better than last year, I’m sure we’ll have a great year again.
“The quality is there. I think the team looks good for next year.”
Twelve months ago, Defour’s future at Turf Moor looked less assured after he also finished his first season at Turf Moor out of the side.
But the 30-year-old is now a key part of Dyche’s squad with a determination to be ready for the start of a landmark season which will see the former Standard Liege, Porto and Anderlecht midfielder return to European competition as part of the first Burnley side to play in Europe for 51 years.
He told Clarets Player HD: “The year before I think everybody saw what I was capable of but didn’t see it always and on a regular basis.
“This season they saw it and they enjoyed it. I enjoyed it and I think I proved a lot of people who were having doubts wrong.
“It’s a different story now and that’s why a pre-season is so important and I want to be fit for pre-season.
“That’s a major part of how your season will go.
Steven Defour scored the Clarets' goal of the season at Manchester United
“I’m really looking forward to it. Now we have the Europa League which is nice, especially for the fans. I hope we can reach the group stage.
“Then you show you are in Europe until December, which is something to look forward to, especially for the fans to travel around Europe.
“We are already playing in the best league in the world so we have the level you need to perform in the Europa League, so I think we will be all right.”
Watch the full interview by clicking on the video above as Steven talks about his fitness fight, the season to come and his decision to retire from international football.