Defour knocking on the door of Premier League return for Clarets
Midfielder Steven Defour confirmed that he's knocking on the door of a Premier League return after stepping up his comeback with 75 minutes against Burton Albion in the Carabao Cup.
It was the 30-year-old's first taste of competitive action for the first team since the 1-0 defeat to Manchester United at Turf Moor in January.
The former Belgium international, now contracted to the club until 2020, underwent surgery to repair damaged cartilage in his knee after admitting that he'd been playing through pain and discomfort.
But the operation has been a success and now he's hoping to get back to business. Following the 2-1 defeat at the Pirelli Stadium, his 50th appearance for the Clarets, he said: "It’s really good to be back, I waited so long. To be playing for 75 minutes felt really good.
"I've worked really hard and I'm happy to play. I enjoyed the competitive part. The first 15 minutes I played good then the next 20 were a bit weird, I couldn’t get hold of the ball. Then the end of the first half was really good again.
"I had some good movement, some good passes forward. Personally it was a good feeling."
Defour added: "That’s the first thing you’re looking for, to get your rhythm back and your enjoyment back. You can only get that if you play games. Physically I felt good, I’m in a good place.
"You know at some point you’re going to have difficulties because you’ve not played for eight months, but it felt great.
"I have my confidence back and my touches back which is what I was looking for. I’m getting closer, I can play my part.
"It’s up to the gaffer and to me how I feel in the next few days. I'll keep on training and get in the team for the Premier League."
The surgery quelled any hopes the one-time Anderlecht man harboured of featuring for his country at the World Cup in Russia over the summer.
And setbacks during his rehabilitation programme ultimately prevented any chances of taking part in Burnley's first European campaign in more than half-a-century.
However, the 2007 Belgian Golden Shoe winner is refusing to dwell on the negatives after working tirelessly to get back on the pitch.
"I had setbacks," he said. "At some point we didn’t really know what was going on but I fought back.
"It’s been really frustrating, because every time you want to step up you can’t because there was something wrong. At first we couldn't figure out what it was.
"It was bad because the last few months I had a setback and then every time we had to step up the rehab we couldn’t because there was a problem."
He added: "Missing out on Europe was disappointing because it was with Burnley and it was the first time in a long, long time, but I’ve played in it before so the disappointment is a bit less.
"I missed out on the World Cup, but I’ve played a World Cup before so the feeling was a little bit less. You still want to be part of it but I’m only looking forward now."