DALE Stephens is delighted to be back in Lancashire and is planning on helping Burnley finish in the right half of the Premier League again this season.

The 31-year-old, a long-standing target of boss Sean Dyche, has joined from Brighton for a fee understood to be £1million, potentially rising to £2.5m.

He has signed a two-year deal at Turf Moor having been the subject of several bids from the Clarets four years ago.

Stephens ultimately stuck with Brighton and helped them into the top flight and the Bolton-born player arrives back in the North West with 99 Premier League appearances to his name.

He therefore knows exactly what Dyche and Burnley are all about.

“I’m very happy. It’s probably taken a few more years than expected but I’m happy to get it over the line this week and finally become a Burnley player,” he said.

“I’ve been away from the North West for a while. It’s nice to come back to where the family resides as well.

“But most importantly I’m coming back to a Premier League football club that’s done well in recent years in this league and I’m excited for that challenge.

“I have played against this squad and this team a lot in recent years, so I know the strengths of the club and that’s what’s excited me, to come in and buy into the gaffer’s ideas and the way he works, which is a good pull for me.

“The club finished 10th last year, which is not easy to do. It won’t be easy to get higher than that in the league, but it’s got to be an aim.

“If you’re not improving, you’re going backwards. I’m sure the club as a whole wants to become better and that’s something I want to be part of.”

Having started out with Bury and Oldham, Stephens spent two-and-a-half seasons with Charlton Athletic before joining Brighton in January 2014.

In total, he made 223 appearances for the South Coast club and was a regular for the last three seasons as he helped Brighton gain a foothold in the top tier.

With Burnley’s initial interest having come back in 2016, Stephens believes his eventual arrival at Turf Moor comes with him a much improved performer than the player the Clarets originally tried to sign.

“What I will say, is that I’m probably a better player now than when Burnley tried to sign me initially, with the experience I’ve had over the last three years,” he said.

“I’ve probably learned a lot playing in this division for the last few years. Individually, I want to play as many games as I can at as a high a level as possible and, collectively, help us improve as a team and finish as high as we can in the Premier League.”

Stephens is Burnley's second summer signing after the arrival of Wolves goalkeeper Will Norris.