Burnley centre back James Tarkowski on England hopes and facing Spurs without Harry Kane

James Tarkowski won’t be able to test himself against England’s best centre forward tomorrow.
James Tarkowski holds off Harry KaneJames Tarkowski holds off Harry Kane
James Tarkowski holds off Harry Kane

But whoever he comes up against, instead of Harry Kane, when Spurs line up at Turf Moor, the 27-year-old is looking to build on arguably his most consistent sequence of performances in a Burnley shirt.

The Clarets have gone six Premier League games unbeaten, to join the race for a European slot, with Tarkowski helping keep four clean sheets in that time.

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Only Harvey Barnes and Danny Ings have scored against Burnley in the last six league games, and while Tarkowski feels he can improve further, he is happy with his form: “I think that consistency is something that every player is searching for.

“If you can perform to a very good level every week, that’s what you want.

“That’s what managers look for in players, if they can do it over time.

“It’s something I’m always striving for.

“I know I still got things to learn to get even more consistent throughout the season, but I’ve been pretty pleased overall this year.”

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Asked whether he is in the best form of his Clarets career, he admitted: “Probably up there, yes. I’ve managed to keep myself fit, which is important.

“I’ve tried to sort of keep those niggling injuries away which can really affect a season.

“Touch wood I can keep those niggles away and keep getting out on the pitch and performing.”

Those performances mean Tarkowski is very much part of the conversation when discussing England and which centre backs will make the squad for Euro 2020.

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The former Oldham man has two caps to his name, both in 2018, and would like nothing more than to earn an international recall.

But all he can do is maintain his standards, and see if Gareth Southgate comes calling: “I can only do so much.

“I can just show what I’m about and then it’s down to the manager to decide what players suit his style and what he wants to do with the team.

“I’m doing the best I can to be involved, but it’s out of my hands once I get off the pitch.

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“There’s a lot of talent out there, a lot of players fighting for positions, not just in my position but in other positions as well, so just making that squad is very difficult.

“It’s obviously something I’m looking to do and want to be involved in but I know how difficult it is just to make that squad.”

This summer could be extra special, with England playing their three group games, and possibly beyond, at Wembley: “Yes, of course. I’ve seen the schedule. It would be fantastic and something I would love to be a part of. My priority for now is doing what I have been doing on the pitch.

“If that opportunity comes I’d love to be involved in it.”

Tarkowski isn’t alone when it comes to Burnley players being linked with a call up, with Sean Dyche himself believing Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Dwight McNeil and current squad member Nick Pope should all come into consideration.

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Tarkowski agreed: “We’ve had some very good performances from English lads this year.

“Popey has been brilliant and Charlie has been mentioned at left back, and Ben beside me has been brilliant.

“There have been players performing consistently throughout the season but the competition out there is high so just making the squad is difficult.”

Jordan Pickford has come in for criticism as England’s number one, with a debate raging as to whether Pope or Manchester United’s Dean Henderson, on loan at Sheffield United, should come in to replace him.

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Tarkowski wouldn’t be shocked if Pope got the nod: “That’s something you’d have to ask the manager.

“But from what I’ve seen of him, and I know how good he is, it would be brilliant if he was.

“His performances have been top end all season, so it wouldn’t surprise me if he was.“

Tarkowski also feels his centre back partner Mee would be deserving of a call up as well: “He’s been consistently playing in the Premier League for a few years and playing really well. I would like to think so.

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“I think Ben probably deserves it. But like I say competition is high and it’s sort of about what players suit the manager and the team he wants to pick.

“For my opinion, yes, but I’m not picking the squad so it’s obviously difficult for me to say.

“He probably deserves it the way he’s played over the last few seasons. To keep himself fit and perform week in week out for us has been brilliant.

“I’d obviously pick him but it’s out of my hands.”

Burnley will be out to avenge a 5-0 defeat at Spurs in December at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, but Kane, who scored twice, Son Heung-Min and Moussa Sissoko, who both got one each, won’t feature at Turf Moor.

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Tarkowski looked back on a Burnley off day: “The game was out of our hands. I think it was after 20 minutes they were 3-0 up.

“It doesn’t help when Kane smashes it into the top corner from 25 yards out. It’s never a good start to a day.

“Obviously we want the game to go a bit differently this time.

“We know how good Spurs can be, but we need to impose ourselves on them.

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“Last time we let the game get away from us so early it was out of our hands then. So hopefully we can start the game a bit better this weekend and it can be a different game.”

Spurs could use Dele Alli as a false nine, in the absence of Kane and Son, but how will Burnley adapt?: “Your preparation’s a bit different. You know you’ve probably got your usual suspects when you come up against Spurs, but with missing two big players, the expectancy on what team they’re going to play is a bit different.

“We’ll be prepared for whatever team they put out.

“And we’re always trying to concentrate on ourselves rather than worry about the opposition too much.

“We’re a team that plays from our shape so we don’t want people to get too dislodged and have people dragged out of position.

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“Playing from our shape is something that’s quite important to us.

“It’s something we’ve found to be quite successful over the last few seasons so we’ll concentrate on ourselves more than worrying about what formation they’re going to play.

“They’re looking to drag you out of position to find them spaces.

“The way we’ve worked has been pretty good so far since we’ve been in the Premier League so I’m not sure we’ll be changing that for this weekend.”