Burnley defender James Tarkowski out to prove he’s worthy of an England call

Burnleys James Tarkowski (left) in action against Wolves at Molineux
Burnleys James Tarkowski (left) in action against Wolves at Molineux

Burnley defender James Tarkowski has vowed to work harder than ever and prove to Three Lions coach Gareth Southgate that he's deserving of a place in the England squad.

The 26-year-old, who has made two starts for his country, didn't make the cut for the latest 25 man squad, named for the UEFA European Championship Group A qualifiers against Bulgaria and Kosovo.

England, who have Clarets goalkeeper Nick Pope in their ranks, have already netted 10 times in the tournament, beating the Czech Republic 5-0 at Wembley Stadium and Montenegro 5-1 at the Stadion Pod Goricom in March.

Tarkowski was an unused substitute in both those fixtures, alongside Tom Heaton and Kieran Trippier, and hasn't earned a cap since a 1-0 win over Switzerland in an international friendly at the King Power Stadium almost 12 months ago.

Having starred in Burnley's opening four Premier League fixtures, he said: "I feel good, I have had a full pre-season behind me and I have come back in really good shape.

“That has allowed me to get to the level of performance that I want. I have still got to prove myself at this level and that is what I am looking to do.

“I am always looking to improve and I still feel like I am at an age where I have progress to make and I will be looking to do that as well."

He added: "I am always looking to be see if I I am going to be involved, I always feel as though I am working hard enough especially recently, I feel like I have been performing well.

“I have not made it, which is obviously disappointing, but that shows I still have to work to do and I will be working as hard as ever to show that.

“I am sure the England manager will be watching me amongst many other players, I have just got to keep performing and show what I can do."

Tarkowski may have been overlooked for selection, but he's taken the decision on the chin.

Former Clarets defender Michael Keane has been drafted in to the pool of central defenders at St George's Park alongside Harry Maguire and Joe Gomez while Aston Villa's Tyrone Mings was a surprise call.

Trippier, Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold, Spurs full back Danny Rose and Leicester City's Ben Chilwell make up the defensive options with Manchester United's summer recruit Aaron Wan-Bissaka withdrawing through injury.

Tarkowski said: "I listened to the interview from my manager [Sean Dyche] the other day about how many lads who are English have been performing well (for Burnley), this season and in other seasons.

"We have Popey in there at the moment and Dwight [McNeil] in the Under-21s so I am sure there is plenty of other lads looking to get involved themselves.

"I think the competition throughout the squad is high and the manager has a difficult job to pick from players deserving an opportunity to be in there.

"He has obviously seen it as an opportunity to give someone new a chance so that is his decision, he is the manager and that is what he is there to do.

"I only concentrate on myself, I know how well I am playing at the moment and how well I feel and I just have to concentrate on my football."

Burnley take on Brighton (a), Norwich City (h) and Aston Villa (a) before Southgate names his group for next month's trips to the Czech Republic and Bulgaria.

And those games will be Tarkowski's focus. He said: “There is always the next squad and the squad after that to go and show what you can do so I have to concentrate on myself and the team I play for. I am really enjoying my football at the moment."