JACK Cork admits Burnley are relishing proving the critics wrong this season as they continue to mix it with the Premier League big boys.

The Clarets remain in the top six after a goalless draw at Brighton on Saturday, with the halfway point of the season approaching next weekend.

Burnley’s haul of 32 points from 18 games has certainly passed expectations inside the dressing room, but it’s caused plenty of head scratching away from Turf Moor as well.

Sean Dyche’s side were amongst the favourites for relegation this season having lost Michael Keane and Andre Gray in the summer and many pundits had them in the bottom three in their pre-season predictions.

But Burnley are confounding those opinions, and Cork revealed the fact they had been so widely written off had provided a little extra motivation.

“We all saw that,” Cork said of the doomsday predictions.

“I remember seeing it with Huddersfield and Brighton as well. It gives you a little bit of extra motivation when you hear things like that.

“You have it in your mind to prove people wrong and I’ve been at teams before where it’s been the same kind of thing. It is good and it gives you that bit of extra motivation in games.”

There might have been an expectation of a dogfight inside the dressing room before the season dawned, but neither were thoughts of a battle for European qualification being entertained.

Cork is sticking to that target of 40 points, which would match what they achieved last term and all but guarantee safety, but he admits that it would be a ‘shame’ to see this good start go to waste.

“It’s not what we thought we’d be involved in at the start of the season but we don’t want to get carried away,” he said.

“At the minute our main goal is to get to 40 points and if we can get that then we’ll look at setting some new targets and go from there.

“If we can get to 40 points quite quickly then it would be a shame if we couldn’t add to the good start that we’ve had.

“We’ll keep going and we keep getting results and pulling them out. We’ve got that momentum where we’re getting results.

“I don’t want to say how far we can go because it’s the Premier League but we have got the quality.

“If you hit one or two bad results then you can get in to a bad run so we don’t want to get carried away and brought back down to earth.”

On a lesser scale Burnley are following the template laid down by Leicester City two years ago when they claimed the Premier League title.

Cork believes that will never be repeated, but he is taking delight in showing that those smaller sides in the top flight can compete.

“What Leicester did was exceptional, it was a one-off. I’m not sure that will ever be done again to that standard,” the midfielder said.

“To go against the grain and to prove a lot of people wrong, competing against teams with higher budgets and higher expectations, it’s good to prove that the smaller teams can get in and amongst it.”