JAMES Tarkowski has backed Nick Pope to thrive as the Clarets number one in the absence of captain Tom Heaton.

Pope is set for an extended run in the side after Heaton suffered a dislocated shoulder in the 1-0 win over Crystal Palace which is set to rule him out for several months, potentially harming his World Cup chances for the summer.

The 25-year-old came on against the Eagles at Turf Moor and is now set for a first Premier League start against Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday, but Tarkowski insists the former Charlton goalkeeper is good enough to star for Burnley in the top flight while Heaton recovers.

“It was unfortunate for Tom but it was a good chance for Popey who trains really well all the time,” Tarkowski said of the Clarets stopper.

“He’s done really well so far and he made a brilliant save (against Palace). He does that every day in training. It’s unlucky for Tom but hopefully Popey gets a few games now to show what he can do.

“He’s more than capable. Obviously Tom is exceptional, his England caps prove that, but Popey trains really hard and he’s a top class keeper so he’ll slide in seemlessly.”

Pope will hope to settle into life in the Premier League as quickly as Tarkowski has, with the central defender excelling in the win over Palace as he looks to fill Michael Keane’s shoes.

After relying on appearances off the bench, often in midfield, for most of last season, the January 2016 addition from Brentford has now started eight successive Premier League games in the centre of defence, and he’s relishing regular action in his favourite position.

“It’s nice to be getting the game time and getting the results,” Tarkowski said. “It’s a long season though so the lads will need to be at it all the way.

“I’ve been here for quite a long time now and I haven’t played many games so it’s nice to be getting a few starts under my belt.

“I think if you ask anyone who plays - the more games you play in a row there’s a nice rhythm that you can get in to. It’s tough if you come in to the team for one game and then don’t play for three or four. The more games that come the more I think I’ll improve.”

Tarkowski thrived in a battle of strength against Christian Benteke on Sunday, just as he did when he started his run of appearances back in April in the 2-0 win over Palace at Selhurst Park.

He admitted the team display in the weekend’s 1-0 win wasn’t ‘as good as we would have liked’, but he praised the ability to grind out all three points and it was an example of the Clarets ability to mix things up this season.

“I think if you ask any of the lads they’ll tell you that we’ve got many strings to our bow,” he said. “We can mix it up, we can go long, we can keep the ball, we can grind it out, we can do it whichever way we want. We’ll do whatever we need to do to get the points and Sunday has proved that.”

The win took Burnley to seven points and seventh place after four games, and of the start to the campaign Tarkowski added: “It’s been good. Obviously we’ve had two tough away games so to come away with four points is nice. Then to get our first home win, where we were really successful last year, it was good to get that going.”