Cork excited by prospect of Turkish test
After prevailing in the Battle of Britain, Clarets midfielder Jack Cork is ready to experience a Europa League game with a more Continental feel to it.
Burnley had to get through extra-time against Aberdeen, winning 4-2 on aggregate after the second round qualifier had finished all square in normal time, to earn a two-legged tie against Turkish outfit Istanbul Basaksehir.
The first installment takes place on Thursday at the Fatih Terim Stadium, a venue where the occupants have lost just once in 21 competitive fixtures.
Boss Abdullah Avcı, in his second managerial spell with the club having coached the Turkish national team in-between, has assembled a competitive squad during his tenure, bringing in skipper Emre Belozoglu, former Arsenal and Manchester City left back Gael Clichy, striker Emmanuel Adebayor, midfielder Kerim Frei, Swiss international Gokhan Inler while Arda Turan is on loan from Barcelona.
Burnley’s opponents finished runners up in the Turkish Super Lig in 2016/17 and culminated last term level on points with second place Fenerbahce, seeing off champions Galatasary and Besiktas along the way.
“I’m really looking forward to it and I know that everybody else is,” Cork said. “The fans and the club are looking forward to a trip to Turkey.
“Hopefully we can come away with some good memories like we’ve had over the last two games.
“It’s a test that we’re looking forward to and it’ll be a great experience for us to play more European football.
“I don’t know much about them but I know they’ve got some good players and they finished joint second in the league last year.
“It’s going to be tough. They’re a good side but hopefully we can go over there and get a decent result.
“These are the days that you want to experience as a club. When I signed last season people wouldn’t have expected us to be playing in Europe.
“For us to get through this first round and secure a tie like that in Turkey shows how far the club has progressed.”
The 29-year-old, in his third stint with the Clarets, netted his eighth goal for the club, the seventh with his head, when getting on the end of substitute Charlie Taylor’s cross to finally beat Dons goalkeeper Joe Lewis.
And he was delighted to see the job out on his 100th appearance. “We worked so hard last season to get here so it meant so much to us and the fans,” he said.
“At the end of the season everyone was wearing the t-shirts and singing about it. It was such a good feeling so it would have been a huge shame to have missed out on it by going out in the first round.
“For us to go through is a big relief and hopefully we can get a little bit of momentum going and progress again.”