JAY Rodriguez has insisted Burnley will be challenging at the top of the table next season despite the disappointment of their failure to make the play-offs this term.

The Clarets had been one of the favourites for automatic promotion in their first season since relegation from the Premier League but they ended the campaign eighth in the Championship table after Saturday’s 1-1 draw at home to Cardiff.

Rodriguez scored his 15th goal of the season in that game, later going on to sweep the board at the club’s official player of the year awards on Sunday, and believes Burnley will rally this summer and be a real force next season.

“There was disappointment in not making the play-offs but we should have been in there with a few odd results,” said the 21-year-old.

“We’ve got to look to next year now and work hard.

“It’s something to look forward to because we know we’re good enough to be up there and I think we will be next year.

“We’ve got a lot of hard work to do but we’ve got a great squad and next year I think we’re going to be up there because we’ve got the potential and the players to do it.

“It’s been a learning curve for everyone. It is every season. You always learn in football.

“I know from this year that you can never know it all, you’re always learning.

“You can take the disappointment from this year into next year and improve.

“We’ve got good experienced players and good young players. It’s a good mix.

“Maybe there’s an expectation to go straight back up.

“The Championship is one of the hardest leagues with good teams doing well and beating each other.

“But I know we’ve got the potential and the players to do it, so there should be nothing stopping us.”

After being voted Burnley’s star man this season by 10 of the 14 supporters branches last week, Rodriguez took the official player of the year award on Sunday as well as the players’ player of the year honour and the Junior Clarets prize.

He said: “It’s my first real season and to get this amount of awards, I’m a bit shocked.

“It’s a dream come true. The main thing is I’m playing football and that’s what I always wanted to do.

“I appreciate everyone who voted and all the support this year.

“The players’ player of the year is unbelievable because obviously they’re the ones you work with.

“I’ve got great respect for every single player in the squad.

“It’s brilliant to come into training every day. It’s just a pleasure.

“To be rewarded with something like that is surprising.”