ASHLEY Barnes has been leading Burnley's European charge in recent weeks just a decade on from his teenage years in non-league circles.

European football seemed a long way off for Barnes when he was still playing for Paulton Rovers in the Southern League Division One South and West as a 17-year-old.

But the striker is in the form of his life right now, with six goals in his last eight games taking his Premier League tally to 20.

On Saturday the 28-year-old will face former club Brighton looking to continue his scoring spree and edge the Clarets closer to Europe.

Burnley need just four points from their final three games to secure a spot in the Europa League next season, although any slip up from Everton or Leicester City would reduce that requirement.

Barnes admits he has to scratch his head at times as he contemplates his journey through the leagues and praised Turf boss Sean Dyche for giving him the freedom to go out and enjoy his football.

"It’s a great achievement, personally and for this group, we’ve all come a long way, that’s down to the gaffer and the freedom he gives us to enjoy our football," he said.

"I scratch my head sometimes, it’s nice to see when people are talking about you.

"I’m still learning every day on the training ground, if I can keep doing that then hopefully I can go a long way."

Barnes believes Europe would be 'another tick off the wishlist' in his own career as he continues to go from strength to strength since his £450,000 move from the Seagulls to Turf Moor.

And the Bath-born striker is already joking of going one better next season, although he admits there is still work to be done to get over the line this term.

"It would be massive, another tick off the wishlist," he said of Europe.

"It’s something you can only dream of, to play at the highest level possible in your career.

"Imagine if we won the Europa, then got in the Champions League. You’ve got to keep dreaming. In all seriousness we need to keep working hard and hopefully we can get that spot."

Given his rise recently Barnes is refusing to put a lid on his own targets, adding: "You need to keep going as much as possible, to have your ambitions and strive to be the best.

"You want to compete and play with the best players so long may it continue."