Sam Vokes looking to emulate international success with the Clarets

Clarets striker Sam Vokes was sat eating breakfast with recently departed Swansea City skipper Ashley Williams and defender Neil Taylor in France when the Premier League fixtures were announced.

Friday, 12th August 2016, 10:30 pm
Sam Vokes rises highest to head on goal against Real Sociedad last Friday. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard

The trio were accompanied by the remainder of the Welsh squad in Lens the day before the European Championship Group B encounter with England at Stade Bollaert-Delelis.

Williams has since brought his eight-and-a-half year stay at the Liberty Stadium to an end, opting to join top flight rivals Everton this week.

His international team-mate Taylor, however, will be among Francesco Guidolin's squad for the season opener at Turf Moor.

They were brothers in arms, working in unison as Wales surprised the globe by beat a strong Belgium side in the quarter-final - thanks to Vokes's elegant header - before they were beaten by Portugal in the final four. Now, back at club level, they will face off in a battle for three points.

"We had a strong group," said Vokes. "The 'Together Stronger' hash tag was right because we are all really close.

“Every night in the camp, we would spend the night together socialising playing table tennis, pool, watching games - I think that’s all part of it.

“You can see it when we go out and play, how close the lads are and how hard we work for each other.

"That paid off because we went into the tournament with the attitude that, having not been there before, whatever happens will be a success. It paid off because we got far."

Vokes added: “When the fixtures came out, I was down at breakfast with the Wales squad and some of the Swansea lads were there, so we had some banter about it.

“But it’s a good one for us because we are at home first and we want to make Turf Moor a fortress this year. With the crowd that we get, I am sure we will. We will go and attack it, but the Swansea game is a big one for us."

Having excelled on the international stage, Vokes believes that the Clarets can emulate that success at domestic level having witnessed parallels between club and country.

“I think there is a comparison between the two squads," he said. "It comes a lot from the group and how we operate together on a daily basis.

“We all work hard for each other and know our jobs and that pays off on a Saturday. Everyone is willing to work hard for each other.

"There is a lot to be said for hard work. It’s massive. Here with Burnley, people wrote us off last Christmas, but we went into the new year and were 23 unbeaten and it got us promoted.

“Those runs don’t just happen. It comes from the hard work we put in every week."

Vokes was absent for a large chunk of Burnley's last voyage among the country's elite, with a serious knee injury limiting him to just five starts. The striker is now determined to make up for lost time.

"I was gutted to miss out on the first half of the last PL season," he said. "It was tough, especially on the opening night when we played Chelsea and I was watching from the stand.

“That’s what drives you really and makes it more important to take your opportunities, so I am really looking forward to this one.

“I probably wasn’t fully fit until the start of the next season. It’s a real 18 month injury.

“You need nine months to get back on the pitch, but probably the same again until you feel yourself.

“It wasn’t until the next season that I got up to my match tempo."