JAMES Tarkowski is aware he has to play a patient role behind Burnley’s first choice central defensive pairing but admits he has found it ‘difficult’ this season.

Almost a year on from joining the Clarets from Brentford, Tarkowski made just his fourth start for the club in the FA Cup draw at Sunderland last weekend, and only his second this season.


The 24-year-old is still yet to start in the Premier League this term, but he has come off the bench on seven occasions and regularly draws praise from Turf Moor boss Sean Dyche for his performances both as a substitute and in training.

He has been unable to dislodge the in-form duo of Michael Keane and Ben Mee in the starting line-up, but the former Oldham man is happy with how far his own career has come in recent seasons.

“It’s difficult, it’s not been easy and I’m not going to say it is. I want to play football,” said Tarkowski, who was playing in League One three years ago.

“But I’ve come a long way from where I was a few years ago so I’ve got to look at that, but I’ll be looking to get as many minutes under my belt as I can, if that’s in cup games then so be it.

“I’ve come on here and there and I feel like I’ve done ok. Obviously it’s down to the gaffer to pick the team and the two lads have done well.

“It would be a bit harsh to drop either of them so I’ve just got to be patient and stick about and try and get as many minutes as I can.”

Dyche recently said Tarkowski could see the ‘bigger picture challenge’ over establishing himself at Turf Moor, and while he admits it is something hard to see that, he does regularly try and remind the Clarets chief of his talents and availability.

“It’s not easy but that’s part of the role of the gaffer and the coaching staff, and your family and agent and the lads around you to help you out and help you through that,” he said.

“We’ve got quite an experienced squad here who I can speak too, and a lot of them have been in my situations.

“I don’t think I deserve to be out of the team, but I can’t get in the team, so it’s tough, but I try and speak to the gaffer as much as I can and give him a little nudge to say I’m ready to go if you need me and hopefully at some point he’ll pick me.”

Keane and Mee have started every Premier League game together at the back so far this season for Burnley, and Tarkowski’s two starts in the Championship last season came when Keane was out of the side with an injury.

Asked if his own performances since his arrival in the January transfer window in 2016 had pushed the duo on, Tarkowski said: “I hope so. It’s a team game and you want everyone to do well, even if personally I’d rather be playing and I’m pushing as hard as I can to get into the team.

“It’s all about patience, there’s a long way to go in the season and hopefully I’ll get my chance to play and impress.”