Ashley Barnes is relishing his new role in Sean Dyche’s matchday XI.
With striker Sam Vokes returning to the fray to rekindle last season’s 47-goal partnership with Danny Ings, the former Brighton and Hove Albion man has been handed a wider berth out on the left hand side.
But the 25-year-old isn’t a stranger to such a position. Former Seagulls boss Gus Poyet utilised Barnes on the left of a three-pronged attack during his spell at the AMEX, while Dyche first introduced him to the left of a four-man midfield in a 1-1 draw against Sheffield Wednesday at Turf Moor last January where he replaced Keith Treacy.
“It was very tough to start with. I played there for Brighton in a 4-3-3, this is a bit different in a 4-4-2 in getting up and down and that. I’m enjoying it. As long as we can keep nicking points and getting results I don’t mind where I play.
“We’d like to think it adds an extra goal threat. I can offer that, I can offer something in attack and if I can do that and if I can set-up my strike partners then that will be great.
“As long as I can get up and down the pitch and help my team-mates then that is what I am going to do.”
As long as we can keep nicking points and getting results I don’t mind where I playAshley Barnes
The fight for survival appears to have transformed in to a six-horse race with just seven points separating 15th place Sunderland and basement club Leicester City, who have a game in hand.
And with seven games remaining, having faced consecutive games against the division’s top eight, inclusive of tomorrow’s clash with Arsenal on home soil, Barnes feels the Clarets have made a statement by staying in touch with their rivals.
“We’ve seen against City where we did really well and got the win there. Why can’t we do the same against Arsenal? Our home form is going to be very important between now and the end of the season.
“Everyone had written us off in this run of games but we’re nicking points and gaining points, which is good. If we can get three against Arsenal it will be brilliant.”
He added: “Hopefully we can secure it before the final game but at the moment every point is vital for us and if it goes down to the last game it’s going to be one big game. It will be amazing, everyone will want to play in that for sure.
“There’s no pressure. The only pressure we feel is what we put on ourselves and that is high, because if not then what is the point of having the challenge to stay in the league? You need pressure and there will be against the teams around us, there going to be must win games.”