JAMES Tarkowski is aiming to use Michael Keane’s progress at Turf Moor as inspiration - after revealing the former Clarets centre back had been in touch to congratulate his former teammates on their Stamford Bridge success.

Burnley stunned the Premier League a week ago when they beat the champions on the opening day of the season. Back in the north west Keane was making his league debut for the Toffees, and taking a nasty blow to the mouth in the process.

“He text me on Saturday or Sunday,” Tarkowski said of the man who made the £30million switch to Goodison this summer.

“I think he lost half of his tooth in his game, which will affect his looks a little bit.

“He sent me a picture of his tooth, and was just congratulating the lads.

“They (Everton) had a good result as well and it’s a great move for him, probably the perfect one in terms of looking to the World Cup next year. It’s nice for Keano to get to a team where he’s going to play week-in, week-out again.

“Everyone got on with Keano when he was here, and Boydy and Andre as well. I spoke to all of them. They all keep in touch.”

Tarkowski could be forgiven for being sick of the sight of Keane.

Since his £3million move from Brentford he’s had to play the waiting game, kicking his heels on the bench or coming on in midfield to shore things up, while Keane and Ben Mee went from strength to strength at the heart of the Clarets defence.

But that’s not how the Manchester-born man sees it, and instead he’s taking inspiration from Keane’s development at Turf Moor after revealing he thinks his own game has come on leaps and bounds since arriving at Burnley in January 2016.

“Looking at Keano’s path, and what he’s done since coming to the club, I can only look at that and take positives out of it,” the 24-year-old said.

“He’s kept me out of the team, which wasn’t nice but he’s really kicked on since he’s come here.

“I’ve felt a massive improvement in my game since I’ve come so it would be a nice target to look at that. It’s not something that I deem unrealistic over the next few years.”

Tarkowski puts that development in his game down to work on the training pitch with Dyche.

Like Keane, Tarkowski came as a defender who was comfortable on the ball but believes his defensive skills have been sharpened up at the Barnfield Training Centre.

Dyche said of Keane while he was at the club that he wanted his defenders to ‘head it, kick it’ ahead of being good on the ball, and Tarkowski is benefiting from that.

“I haven’t played enough games to show that on the pitch but I think when I came here everyone knew I could use the ball well, but I think defensively there were always a few question marks over me,” he admitted.

“Being a defender, that’s the most important part of your game. It’s something which the gaffer spoke to me quite a lot about and worked at on the pitch, and even in the analysis rooms, sitting me down and going through a few things.

“There’s still work to be done but I’ve felt a big improvement in myself, defensively especially, since I came here.

“That’s our priority, we’re there to stop goals. I think it’s always nice if you can bring a player who can play football and defend, that’s when you get the real top players so that’s what I’d like to aim for.”

Tarkowski talks with a refreshing honesty about his own game, able to dissect where he has improved and where he can still get better.

He’s frank enough to admit he found the first half at Stamford Bridge last week fairly comfortable, but also that he was disappointed with his own role in Chelsea’s first goal, scored by Alvaro Morata.

“First half I thought we dealt with them quite easily to be honest,” Tarkowski said of Chelsea. “We knew what (Michy Batshuayi) was going to bring to the pitch and me and Ben suppressed that.

“Morata, I think it was £70m they paid for him, so you expect him to cause a few problems. Personally I need to be switched on a bit more. I’m disappointed, especially with the first goal but over the 90 minutes I was quite pleased.

“It was good movement (for the goal). That’s what you pay money for. From my side I’ll always nitpick at little things and there are bits I still need to work on.

“From the games I’ve played, end of last season and last week, I’ve been pleased but there’s still work to be done for myself.

“I think games will help me. Obviously the gaffer and coaching staff here will help me too and hopefully I can prove that by playing matches.”