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Barnes and Tarkowski could face big decisions

Ashley Barnes
Ashley Barnes
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The next week or so could be a big one for club and country for a number of Sean Dyche’s players.

And a couple could have decisions to make as to where they see their international futures.

Dyche admits he hasn’t spoken to striker Ashley Barnes, who will be watched by Austria head coach Franco Foda at West Ham on Saturday, or James Tarkowski, who is reportedly set for his first England call up - amid interest from Poland.

Barnes represented Austria Under 20s 10 years ago, and the Bath-born frontman is back on their radar after netting six goals this season, including two in his last two outings.

Dyche said: “We haven’t spoken about it. I think overall he continues to mature in his all-round performances. I’m very pleased.

“He’s done well and earned the right to get recognised.”

Barnes is Burnley’s top Premier League goal scorer with 16 over three seasons at this level, and Dyche smiled: “I wish he would have got them all this season! But it’s not easy. I always personally thought the hardest job in the game is being a striker.

“He deserves the credit he has got for the season, he is in a good patch of form.”

The former Brighton man is one of the most amiable people you will meet off the pitch, but an awkward customer on it, his physicality making him a rare breed in this day and age: “Barnesy is his own version of what he is, he’s quite an interesting character.

“He finds a healthy balance between a professional and all round decent manner off the pitch, and a thorough, hard-working professional on it, and there’s a lot to be said for that.

“There’s different ways to be be active and do a job in football, and he certainly is a very tough customer to play against.

“He plays fairly and appropriately, and he’s a handful for defences to get a grip of, but I think we’ve done well in the striking department all season.

“A lot is made of not scoring so many goals, but I think they’ve been productive in other ways, they’ve defended from the front, which is part of an all-round striker’s job, and what we look for from our strikers.”

Dyche added: “He’s not big by the way, but plays big, Ben Mee does. Pitch presence is a different kind of thing.

“Players learn to have that, and he’s certainly done that.

“I don’t know whether it’s fashion or not, I just like productive strikers.

“I don’t look at fashions, you’ve seen my gear!

“It’s about players being effective and productive, That’s the sort of player I want to sign, those who want to learn, improve, and be productive. I think that is important.”

Tarkowski has also caught the eye at the back after stepping up following the record sale of Michael Keane in the summer, and, if Poland come calling - and who wouldn’t fancy a shot at a World Cup playing with Robert Lewandowski and company - he could have to weigh up his ambitions.

Dyche insists its up to the player: “It’s a personal decision. Scotty Arfield was different, the Scotland thing didn’t come his way and he qualified for Canada and made that decision.

“I’d give an opinion if asked, but it’s their decision.

“Tarky is relatively young in learning about this level, so it can only be good to be talked about, and the growth he has to come, hopefully, if he keeps maturing.

“He woesn’t be overlooked if he didn’t go (with England), he’s certainly looked at, possibly for the future, but you have to balance out what you need now and the building blocks for the future.

“But if he keeps going the way he’s going, I’m sure he’ll continue to be seriously considered.”

Asked about maybe having a chance to go to Russia with Poland, Dyche added: “If ifs and ands were pots and pans, we’d all be tinkers, as my dad used to say...

“All you can do is keep working hard and improving, keep developing. If you do that well, you become a magnet to all the good stuff, and if you don’t, it goes away from you.

“Keep doing well, good stuff will come your way.”

Dyche also had a decision whether to be at the World Cup or not, but will watch it with his family after turning down a punditry role: “I have been asked, but I won’t be going. Family comes first. I love my job, but it’s always them first, and that second.

“I’d love to go, but the family come first, they are the rules!

“I’ve done some work for Sky in international breaks covering the other leagues.

“A couple of different people approached me, but I love my family time and they come first.”