JAMES Tarkowski is hoping the return of ‘match winners’ Steven Defour and Robbie Brady can inspire Burnley in the coming weeks.

Both players began last season in fine form before suffering season-ending knee injuries, with Brady out of action since early December and Defour only returning to first team duty recently having been absent since January.

The Belgium midfielder missed the draw with Huddersfield before the international break for personal reasons but is now back available to Sean Dyche, but Brady is looking to shake off a minor hamstring strain having recently played 80 minutes for the Under-23s.

Tarkowski is looking forward to seeing both men back in action for the Clarets.

“They are two big players for us, especially last season,” he said. “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.

“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 those two back.”

Brady was producing his best form for Burnley since his £13million move from Norwich City before picking up the serious knee injury at Leicester City, while Defour has plenty of European experience as well as more than 50 caps for Belgium.

Without them the Clarets have struggled at times for creativity, with the mantle falling to Johann Berg Gudmundsson, who has certainly stepped up with 12 Premier League assists since the start of last season.

But having Brady and Defour back available will only strengthen the options available to Dyche and Tarkowski believes both are capable of turning a game in Burnley’s favour on their day.

“They’re two big match winners in our side. They are players that can change a game,” the central defender said.

“Robbie’s got that sharpness and unpredictability and Steven has played at the top level for years, knows how to cut teams open, knows where to be, knows how to create. They are two big players for us.

“(Steven’s) a bit of a flair player. I have a good laugh with Stevie. He’s a good lad but he’s had a difficult time with his injury. It’ll be nice to have him back.”

After the latest international break the Clarets return to action on Saturday with the toughest Premier League fixture on the calendar - a trip to champions Manchester City.

The Clarets lost 3-0 at the Etihad in the Premier League last season and then 4-1 in the FA Cup, although they did take the lead in that game, and Burnley will head to Manchester without any pressure on their shoulders.

“Sometimes they’re the easier games to go back in to,” added Tarkowski.

“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. We’re looking forward to it and 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.”