Return of creative Burnley duo a boost ahead of Manchester City clash '“ Tarkowski
Clarets centre back James Tarkowski has welcomed the return of creative masterminds Steven Defour and Robbie Brady.
The pair completed 90 minutes in a behind-closed-doors friendly against an AFC Fylde XI midweek to move ever closer to a Premier League return.
Republic of Ireland international Brady, who scored in the 6-3 win at the Barnfield Training Centre, hasn’t featured in the top flight for more than 10 months, suffering a number of setbacks since sustaining a patellar knee tendon tear in a collision with Leicester City’s Harry Maguire at the King Power Stadium.
Meanwhile, Defour hasn’t featured in the league since the other side of the New Year after seeing out Burnley’s 1-0 loss to Manchester United at Turf Moor.
The former Belgium international, who required surgery on his knee, made his comeback in the Carabao Cup defeat to Burton Albion at the Pirelli Stadium last month.
With Sean Dyche’s side crying out for the duo’s imagination on the pitch, with the hope that their presence could restore some fluidity to the play, Tarkowski said: “They are two big players for us, especially last season.
“When we were flying at the start of the season those two were on fire. It will be nice to get them back involved in the next couple of weeks. It’ll strengthen the squad a bit more and add competition for places throughout the team.”
He added: “Robbie had just hit good form when he did his knee in and Steven was playing week-in week-out and playing really well before developing that suspect thing with his knee. It’ll be nice to have them two back.
“They’re two big match-winners in our side. They are players that can change a game. Robbie’s got that sharpness and unpredictability and Steven has played at the top level for years.
“He knows how to cut teams open, knows where to be, knows how to create. They are two big players for us.”
Burnley travel to the Etihad to take on defending champions Manchester City on Saturday but Tarkowski says they can go there without any pressure on their shoulders.
“Sometimes they’re the easier games to go back in to,” he said. “There will be less expectation on us as a team and we always enjoy going to the big clubs.
“That’s what the Premier League is about – going to those big sides and trying to take something from them. We’ll look forward to it.
“There never will be any pressure when Burnley go to Manchester City. It’s a good challenge for us against a team that ran away with the league last year. It’s a good opportunity to go and take some points off them.”