Kevin Long believes hard work is paying off – for him and the team.
Long hadn’t started a Premier League since December, 2018 before returning to the Clarets’ ranks as the replacement for injured skipper Ben Mee against Sheffield United just over a week ago.
Since then Burnley have extended their unbeaten run by a further three games to five, with Long playing a vital role in a back four which on Saturday became the first in the league this season not to leave Liverpool empty-handed.
“It’s hard coming in and trying to step up and perform well,” admitted Long, whose previous three starts this season had all come in cup football.
“But the lads have been really helpful with a good shape all-round and it’s easier to come into the team when we’re well drilled and we know what’s happening.
“That’s all I can do, is come in and try and perform well and work as hard as I can.
“It’s all about working hard on the training pitch. All you can do is keep fit and if your chance does come you have to make sure you’re ready and that’s all I try and do.”
Long has filled the understudy role throughout a decade at Turf Moor but remains a vital part of Sean Dyche’s squad and always delivers when needed.
And the Republic of Ireland international again proved he can live with the best as he helped the Clarets draw 1-1 at Anfield to stop the champions extending their record home winning run to 25 successive league games.
“It was a great performance from the lads,” Long added.
“Popey made a few great saves and showed the quality he has a keeper but I think from back to front everybody defended brilliantly and we got a good point.
“They have been deserved champions. They have played unbelievable football all season and when you see the quality they have, the pace up front and they are a threat pretty much all over the pitch.
“To come here and get a point is brilliant.”
Jay Rodriguez’s equaliser - to add to the two goals the striker scored at Anfield for West Bromwich Albion in a 2018 FA Cup success - means the Clarets have lost just once in 13 league games either side of the league’s shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
They still remain 10th in the table – four points away from equalling their record Premier League points’ tally of 54 - and it may now need at least a seventh-place finish to qualify for the Europa League after Manchester City won their appeal to play in the Champions League next season.
With games running out it’s becoming increasingly difficult to bridge the gap on the teams currently in the qualification slots.
But the players won’t throw in the towel as they prepare to face sixth-placed Wolves on Wednesday with Long determined to try and extend an inspired effort from the Clarets, who would get to within two points of the Midlanders with victory at Turf Moor.
“Since we’ve come back from lockdown, we’ve had a few issues but the lads have just kicked on,” the centre-back told Clarets Player HD.
“There’s been no unrest, we know what we have to do and have just kept working hard and we’re getting deserved points.
“We want to get maximum points from the three games remaining and the lads are going to try and do that.
“It’s a quick turn-around all the time so we just need to make sure everyone is fit and ready and just go again.”