THE Capital One Cup clash with Port Vale can’t come quick enough for Clarets loan star Joseph Mills.
After culminating pre-season preparations, in terms of matches, against Rochdale on Tuesday evening, all attention in training is being geared towards that first competitive fixture at Vale Park.
And the 22-year-old feels the Clarets are aware of what’s to come after the laborious and robust test at Spotland against League Two opposition. “Everybody is working towards the competitive games,” said the defender.
“Friendlies are good to win but at the same time they’re only friendlies. When the season arrives with league games and cup competitions that’s your bread and butter. That’s where you need the results.
“I think we’re heading in the right direction and when Tuesday comes I don’t think anybody will need firing up. We’ve got a job to do, it’s game time and everybody will be focused.”
Mills added: “Everybody will look at that game and know what’s coming up. It’s definitely not going to be an easy game and I think everybody is going in with the mindset that they’re going to be up for it because it’s the first competitive game. We have to be the same. I’ve been looking forward to the new season day by day. I don’t think anybody can wait, especially me.”
Goals from Dale new boy Dele Adebola, Ashley Grimes and Ray Putterill brought an end to the Clarets’ 100% record in pre-season, with Charlie Austin thumping in a late consolation, his fifth goal to date, in the 3-1 defeat.
But Mills, on a season-long loan from Premier League Reading, is urging his new team-mates not to dwell on the outcome. “Pre-season has been long, it’s been tough, we’ve had a hard week, we put some good performances in but unfortunately we couldn’t carry that on against Rochdale. But pre-season has made us stronger and we can draw on that during the season.
“We’d rather get it out of our system now. I still feel there were a lot of things to draw positives from and things to learn from. You’ll have set backs in the season but it’s all about how you bounce back from them. This will give us practice.”
He added: “When we went behind it was a bit new to everyone so we wanted to put that right straight away. We pushed a few men forward which you can get away with in a friendly. We wanted to make the game as realistic as possible so maybe in that situation we need to ease off a bit and try to keep the ball a bit more.
“You can look at your own performance and pick positives and negatives, but at the same time it’s not something to linger on. In a day you need to debrief what you’ve done and move on. There’s no point in looking back because we’ve got games coming up thick and fast.”
Burnley boss Eddie Howe has experimented with various systems throughout the pre-season workout, implementing formations from a basic 4-4-2, to 3-4-2-1, contrasting to a diamond midfield in a 4-1-2-1-2. And Mills feels that eclectic approach will bode well for life in the Championship.
“I think the gaffer has been really good with the lads in building them up with the times they’ve played from 45 minutes to an hour and now coming in to the 90,” he said. “I think I’m just coming in to my physical peak now and hopefully I can find an extra gear when the first game comes.
“We’re trying to adapt to all systems. You come up against different types of teams who play different styles of football so you need to be quick in transition. The gaffer has made us ready for if it does need to change.
“When the season starts you’ve got bigger crowds, bigger atmospheres, and the players need to be prepared for that.
“When I look around the dressing room I don’t see anyone shying away from anything. It’s good to see.”