James Tarkowski was delighted to lead Burnley to FA Cup victory and cap a near perfect week for the Clarets.
Tarkowski took the captain’s armband with Tom Heaton, Ben Mee, Jack Cork and Ashley Westwood – who have all skippered the side in the past – not included in the starting line-up against Barnsley.
And the England international led by example as a stand-in right-back to help keep a second clean sheet in three games and set up a 1-0 third-round victory sealed at the death by Chris Wood’s injury-time penalty.
“I played a bit out there when I was in the youth team at Oldham so I had a slight experience of it, but I enjoyed myself out there,” said Tarkowski, who was pressed into action with Phil Bardsley and Matt Lowton both out injured.
“I thought Barnsley played some good football but in the main we were quite secure at the back, which is always important in games like this – not to give away too many chances.
“And in the second half we had a couple of good chances and the penalty at the end, which gave us a great chance to win the game and which Woody put away.
“He’s on a nice little streak now and hopefully he can keep that up.”
Tarkowski featured in a new-look back four which also included Kevin Long, Ben Gibson and the returning Stephen Ward in front of goalkeeper Nick Pope, playing his first game since July after recovering from a dislocated shoulder.
Stephen Defour also made a successful comeback, playing for 78 minutes against the League One promotion-chasers after seven games out through injury.
“The lads who hadn’t played for a while got some minutes under their belt and got that feel for the game and, overall, I thought we performed all right,” added Tarkowski, who had previously captained Burnley in two EFL Cup ties.
“They’re never easy, games like this. You’re expected to win, playing against a team a couple of leagues below.
“But they gave us a good test and it was a good day overall, with a clean sheet and a win.”
The Clarets earned their place in Monday night’s fourth-round draw with a third successive victory – their best run of the season.
And following Premier League wins over West Ham and Huddersfield, Sean Dyche’s men maintained the momentum ahead of next Saturday’s visit of a Fulham side which is yet to win away this season.
“It’s been a good week for us; six points on the board in the league and into the next round of the FA Cup,” Tarkowski told Clarets Player HD.
“We just need to keep building on that. There’s a bit more confidence back in the lads now after a tough time.
“Hopefully we can keep building, because there are still some big games coming up.”