New man feels competition is a necessity in top flight

PNE against Burnley at Deepdale. Jack Cork
PNE against Burnley at Deepdale. Jack Cork

Summer signing Jack Cork is impressed with the options available in Burnley’s midfield and added that such strength in depth is crucial in the Premier League.

The 28-year-old, who signed on a four-year deal from Swansea City, has featured prominently in the club’s pre-season preparations, partnering Steven Defour in the middle against Celta Vigo while Jeff Hendrick was given a more advanced role.

Clarets boss Sean Dyche has plenty of players to choose from with Ashley Westwood, Scott Arfield and Fredrik Ulvestad all able to operate centrally and Dean Marney will add to the competition on his return from injury.

“All the midfield players are brilliant,” said Cork. “We’ve got some good quality midfield players in myself, it’s good to play with Steve who’s got a lot of quality, Westy is great and Jeff has great quality as well.

“It’s good to play in the middle with all of them. They’re all great technical footballers. There are some good players there and it’s good to have that strength in that area.

“It keeps us pushing throughout the season which is why you need everyone. You do need the competition and that quality.

“It’s not necessarily direct competition because you need each other throughout the season. There may be times when somebody is struggling for form and somebody else needs to step in.

“There are injuries as well or times when you need to play an extra midfielder. You need to be able to work with each other and be on each other’s side all the time.”

Cork has been clean in possession of the ball since returning for his second spell at the club, protecting it well and distributing wisely alongside his Belgian partner.

Burnley’s possession stats were dwarfed by their opponents for the majority last season but Cork admits that there has been more of an onus on improving that.

“That’s what the manager wants,” he said. “He wants to keep the same values but try and look after the ball a little bit more when we’ve got it.

“We did that well at times (against Celta Vigo). Obviously there’ll be spells when we don’t have the ball but there were spells when we we’ve been comfortable, especially in the second half. I thought we did well.”

The fixture against the Europa League and Copa Del Rey semi-finalists at Turf Moor provided a good workout for the Clarets, facing a side that were intent on playing out from the back.

The former Chelsea man feels that they’ll come up against similar styles in the top flight next term.

“We’ve had some good results and played some good football,” he said. “The game (against Celta Vigo) was a good match for us because we’ll be playing a lot of teams like that in the Premier League this season.

“We’re just trying to work and organise ourselves in a certain way where we can get points from games.”