ERIK Pieters has laid down the challenge to Charlie Taylor in Burnley’s left back battle.

The Dutchman has arrived from Stoke for a fee believed to be £1.5 million and brings plenty of Premier League experience with him having played nearly 200 games in the top flight.

The 30-year-old fills the gap in the squad left by Stephen Ward who having been released by the Clarets has headed to the Bet365 Stadium.

Last season saw Taylor establish himself as Sean Dyche’s number one on the left-hand side of the defence, making 45 appearances in all competitions.

But having been pushed to the sidelines by first Gary Rowett and then Nathan Jones at Stoke, Pieters is up for the fight ahead.

“I’ve not come here to sit on the bench – I’ve come here to play,” said a player who has Champions League experience from his time with PSV Eindhoven. 

“I think competition keeps me and him absolutely sharp.

“He had a good season but I’m not here to sit on the bench.

“Let’s make it a fair battle and support each other no matter who is playing.”

Pieters arrives hoping to help the Clarets back into the top half of the Premier League table after finishing 15th last term.

He is a veteran of several top flight seasons with his former club and knows what it takes to be at a club trying to compete towards the sharp end of the division, as Burnley did when they finished seventh in 2017 to reach the Europa League.

“It’s quite early for me to say (how Burnley might perform) because I’ve only just arrived,” said Pieters.

“But this is a really good group, really strong mentally, physically and we can play football as well.

“You need both sides of it. You’re going to look for good players who can play football and then off the pitch if you have a good group who like each other and do a lot of things together you’re going to work harder for each other on the pitch and that’s a good thing and a strength of this manager.

“I think we’re going to have a good season.”

Having finished last season on loan at Amiens in northern France, Pieters is ready to test himself again in England’s top flight having first landed on these shores when he joined Stoke in 2013.

“I still kept an eye on the Premier League of course even when I was in France and playing over there,” he said.

“I think the Premier League gets quicker and quicker every year. Better players are coming in but I’m looking forward to starting the season.”

Pieters, who hasn’t ruled out adding to his 18 caps for the Netherlands should he oust Taylor at Turf Moor, has settled in quickly in East Lancashire.

But having got himself up and running in pre-season he just wants the real stuff to begin.

“I like pre-season to get back on a good fitness level but you all do it for the first game of the season and getting back to the Premier League,” Pieters said. 

“You do it to play games for real and I can’t wait. It’s coming quickly.”