Clarets midfielder Cork feared England chance had escaped him

Burnley's Jack Cork feared that dreams of an England call had escaped him but situations can change quickly in football and the midfielder is now playing for a place at the World Cup in Russia.

Friday, 17th November 2017, 10:25 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 11:00 am
Jack Cork fends off Southampton's Nathan Redmond in the 1-0 Premier League win at St Mary's.

Having represented his nation at every age bracket, the 28-year-old finally graduated from the Three Lions' school when earning his first senior cap against Germany at Wembley Stadium.

International football couldn't have been further away from the former Chelsea man's mind when eating breakfast at the Barnfield Training Centre last Tuesday but, following a phone call and a cancelled trip to Dubai, he found himself replacing Jake Livermore against the world champions at the home of English football.

"It's felt like it was getting further away, I'm 28 now and with the way he's looking at it and the way the younger teams are doing, you wonder whether it would have come, but I'm just lucky and thankful," he said.

Burnley's Jack Cork pulled on the England shirt for the first time as part of the senior setup when featuring against Germany at Wembley.

"There are a lot of lads who missed out, hopefully I've done enough to be making the names they're maybe thinking about for the next camp, but there are a lot of big names to come back, so we'll see.

"Gareth (Southgate) has done a good job, he's said he'll pick people on form and give young players a chance, and he has done.

"It was amazing. I've always wanted to do it. It would be crazy to say that it's not one of your dreams and something that you always think about doing.

"To do it at Wembley, especially against a team like Germany, is an incredibly special moment for me and one of the high points of my career. I can only say thank you for getting that chance.

Burnley's Jack Cork pulled on the England shirt for the first time as part of the senior setup when featuring against Germany at Wembley.

"My dad was there, all my mates, they're all proud, it was a big moment for them, after watching me all the way from the grass pitches to my first games at Scunthorpe - it's just a nice moment. They've come through with me, seen the top of it and the bottom.

"I've had a little taste of it and I'd love to be involved in a World Cup. It's the biggest tournament in football."

Cork has the remainder of the domestic campaign and two dates on the international calendar to prove to Gareth Southgate that he's worthy of a seat on the plane in the summer as England look to end more than half-a-century of hurt.

The final two friendlies are in March when the Three Lions take on Holland at the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam and Italy at Wembley, with both opponents failing to qualify for the 21st edition of the tournament.

The midfielder knows exactly what he has to do to get his chance and he's hopeful that he won't be the only player considered from the Clarets.

"We had a lot of meetings while we were over there about what people had to do personally to be fit and ready for it and for me it's to keep on top of the fitness, eat well, look after myself and make sure that my form is right going in to March," said Cork, who also represented Great Britain at the Olympic Games in London in 2012.

"There's the two in March and two before the tournament, so I think he's said you've got to be playing for your club, playing well and be in good shape. That's all I can try and do.

"I know a lot of players missed out that will probably be higher up the list for the next one, but I've just got to try and make sure we're doing well here."

He added: "He has been saying that he picks on form and how well teams have been doing and we've got five or six players that have done really well this season who are English.

"Defensively we've been keeping a lot of clean sheets so it could've been any of us. It's good and hopefully I gave a good account of myself. If we've still got this form going in to March then perhaps one or two of us can be involved in another camp.

"We've got to keep playing well and keep proving everyone wrong. I think the lads have made it easy for me, settling in, but with Popey, Ben, Lowts, how well they've done, it could have been any one of us, but with me going, Tom (Heaton) before me, if we keep doing well, they could be involved as well."

The experience has certainly inspired the one-time Swansea City midfielder, who faces his former club at Turf Moor in the 12th Premier League game of the season.

Cork recalled the pep talk from Frank Lampard, his idol during his time at Stamford Bridge, prior to kick off and clutching on to his shirt at the full-time whistle.

"I wanted to keep my shirt, you can't swap the first one," he said. "We had Ian Wright come in for the first game, Frank Lampard the second.

"It was great to see someone like that, when I was at Chelsea, as a young lad, he was one of the big players doing it for the country as well, for the club he was scoring goals every week, for me growing up, him, John Terry, Ashley Cole, Joe Cole - that British core we looked up to.

"So to have someone like that in the dressing room taking about their experiences, their first call up, was eye opening."