James Tarkowski looking to protect position in top flight
Despite a seven game stretch without a Premier League win, Clarets defender James Tarkowski is still aiming to finish as '˜the best of the rest'.
Sean Dyche’s side had scaled the unprecedented heights of the top flight earlier in the campaign, climbing as high as fourth in the division, though Tarkowski acknowledged that it would be difficult to sustain that position.
Burnley are now eighth, level on points with former Premier League champions Leicester City with 14 games remaining, and the 25-year-old is hopeful of getting backing to winning ways as soon as possible to protect that standing.
Ahead of the midweek trip to St James’s Park where the Clarets challenge Newcastle United, the one-time Brentford centre back said: “I’ve been saying for quite a while, that it’s not about half a season or a quarter of a season while we’re doing well.
“We’ve got to make sure that the full season is up to the standards that we expect of ourselves. The top six is tough to break in to. We were up and around there for a while but now there’s a bit of a gap between us.
“It’s tough to break that barrier but with everyone else around us we expect ourselves to go out there and beat teams like that.
“We’ve got to keep sticking at it, we’re in a good position for now and we’ve just got to keep trying to pick up points, maintain our position in the table and try to catch the teams above us.
“It’s going to be difficult because they’re going to pick up a lot of points from now until the end of the season. We’ve just got to take it game by game, look to get as many wins as we can and go from there.”
Tarkowski conceded that he doesn’t pay much attention to what the statisticians are saying, but he’s delighted that those numbers are portraying an improvement in his game.
The defender, who is having his development monitored by both England and Poland, has made the sixth most clearances at this level with 154, the fourth most headed clearances with 97 and the third most blocks with 36.
“Stats are stats, I am where I am expected to be. That is how I see it. I am meant to be in that position so if the ball hits me the ball hits me,” he said.
“I don’t read too much into it, obviously it is nice for your name to be mentioned but I am just doing my job like anyone else who is doing their job.
“The team is known as being well set up defensively so maybe the defence got a few more plaudits than the lads higher up the pitch but they are obviously doing just as much work as we are.”
With 10 clean sheets this term, Tarkowski added: “I’ve improved, definitely. I think you see a few things written about me now being an ‘old school English defender’.
“Before I came here I don’t think anybody would’ve written those words about me. It’s a side of the game that this club has brought out of me and I’m really enjoying it.”