CHARLIE Taylor believes the competition for a starting spot at left back in the Burnley team can drive him and Stephen Ward onto a new level of performance.

Taylor will be hoping to retain his place in the Clarets side when they return to Premier League action at home to Southampton this weekend.

The former Leeds man has started the last 11 matches after Ward picked up an injury.

But the Republic of Ireland international is now fully-fit and was an unused sub against Swansea City last time out.

Taylor knows he has a fight on his hands to keep hold of his shirt but is relishing the competition and believes it will help improve him as a player.

He said: “Wardy is back now, he’s a fantastic left-back. It’s great, you want the competition, you thrive off it.

“Without any competition you could take your foot off the gas, so it’s good for both of us.”

Asked if the battle for a place will push the two players onto new heights, Taylor added: “I think so. Before Wardy got injured he was playing really well. I had to wait for my chance.

“The competition is good and we’ve got it all over the pitch really.”

Taylor had to bide his time for a start with Burnley after joining the club last summer with his top flight debut not arriving until December’s win over Stoke City when he replaced the injured Ward. That was his first taste of Premier League action and the 24-year-old revealed he had been happy with his personal performances, even if he is yet to taste a victory when starting a game.

Asked if he was pleased with his displays over the past two months he added: “Yeah, but the team is the most important thing and I’m desperate to get the three points just like everyone else really. How the team does is the most important thing.”

The Clarets have enjoyed a break from action since losing 1-0 to Swansea and spent time away in Portugal as they prepare for a Turf Moor clash with Southampton on Saturday.

Burnley have not tasted success since Taylor’s debut - a run of 11 games in all competitions.

But those fixtures have included two game against Manchester City and Manchester United as well as home matches with Liverpool and Tottenham.

The visit of the Saints this weekend is the first of a home double-header with Everton at Turf Moor the following week,

And, of the sides above them in the table, the Clarets have only Chelsea to visit East Lancashire between now and the end of the season.

And Taylor is keen to make the most of their Turf Moor opportunities.

“We’ve got to take advantage of that,” he added. “We’re strong at home and hopefully the wins will come.”