SOME footballers prefer to put their club before country. Sam Vokes is hoping for the best of both worlds.
The striker is making a name for himself with Wales, being only the second name on the nation’s scoresheet in the last year, alongside Spurs star Gareth Bale.
But he knows his international exploits are reliant on him impressing for the Clarets, which is why he is aiming to work his way back into Sean Dyche’s starting line-up.
The targetman was called upon when Charlie Austin was ruled out for five weeks with a hamstring injury and settled straight into the side, working well with Danny Ings off his shoulder, and combining with Junior Stanislas to score in the win at Millwall last month.
Vokes was naturally disappointed to be sacrificed and back among the substitutes when Austin was fit.
But he responded with a goal for Wales in their friendly with Austria earlier this month.
“It was good to get another cap under my belt to start off with, and then to get another goal and a good win for the country was a confidence boost for myself,” said the targetman, who was set up for his header by Bale.
“It’s a good young Welsh team we’ve got at the moment. Bale’s doing it at the highest level at the moment – he’s on fire – so on that side of it we’re looking very strong.
“He’s an exceptional talent and can turn a game on its head just like that, and as you’ve seen in the last couple of games for Tottenham he’s scored a lot of their goals recently.
“For us internationally we’ve got a few games coming up next month, which will be exciting, and he’s a strong figure in that.
“We’ve got more than just one at the moment in the Wales set-up though, we’ve got a lot of young lads coming through with the experience of Bellamy and a few others that are also there. I think we’ve got a strong set-up.”
And Vokes is keen to remain part of it, but knows his progress with the Clarets is key.
In a friendly with Stoke City less than a week after scoring for Wales, he served manager Dyche a reminder of his strengths, scoring both goals in a Burnley win.
“Hopefully playing here will help my cause with Wales as well so I think for me to keep pushing on and get the goals when I can will only be good for my confidence,” said the 23-year-old, who admitted he was frustrated to be dropped when Austin was ready to return.
“It’s the way we’ve played a lot this year, with one up front, so it’s either going to be or Charlie, and obviously Charlie’s been banging them in since the first game of the season so it’s tough to knock on the door.
“But when you get a chance you’ve got to take it.”
Vokes suffered a minor foot injury in the behind-closed-doors game at the Britannia Stadium.
He recovered in time to take his place on the bench for the midweek visit of Middlesbrough, coming on as a second-half replacement for Martin Paterson.
And he is ready to go again against his last loan team.
“It will be good to go back down there – I’ve got some good mates from my time down there. I enjoyed it,” he said.
“From our point of view it will be a tough place to go.
“It’s quite a similar team from when I was down there so I know quite a lot of them and how they play. It’s a lot different to anyone else.
“A lot of teams try to adopt it now with one up front and the auxiliaries in the midfield – they’re strong at that, it’s a big part of their game.
“They play good football. They’re there or thereabouts with us at the moment play-off wise. They’re going to be pushing, as well as we are, so it’s going to be a tough game for both sides.”
Of Gus Poyet’s influence on the Seagulls, Vokes said: “He’s a good manager and the team play a lot how he played I think.
“They’ve got that edge and they’ve got a good balance. They have the physical side as well as the talent.
“They have some exceptional players like Vicente and a couple of others who have played at the highest level. They’ve got the foreign mix as well.
“But we can go there and express ourselves.”
The striker added: “I remember last year when they were down to nine men within 10 minutes - not quite in the same way, but we’ll take the same result.
“It was a strange affair. You go into a game with a gameplan and after 10 minutes they’re down to 10 men.
“That was obviously to our advantage, but it almost made it harder for us I think at the time because they sat in and didn’t allow us to play.
“Tripps scored a great goal, and even then they were pushing on towards the end, so it was a good result – we’d take a repeat of that.”