Burnley comes first for James Tarkowski, but the defender is determined to make England's Euro 2020 squad

Defender James Tarkowski is admittedly enticed by the carrot of the European Championships that is dangling in front of him.

Saturday, 14th December 2019, 7:00 am
James Tarkowski, Ben Chilwell and Dele Alli of England sit on the bench during the 2020 UEFA European Championships Group A qualifying match between Montenegro and England at Podgorica City Stadium

But the 27-year-old maintains that the Clarets have his undivided attention until that time comes as he looks to build on performances that landed him the LoveBet Player of the Month prize for November.

The former Brentford man, who has been overlooked by Gareth Southgate since his last inclusion in March, is desperate to pull on the Three Lions again, but he knows selection will take care of itself if his displays in the Premier League are up to scratch.

With Wembley staging seven games during next summer's tournament - including the semi-finals and final - Tarkowski said: "I think everybody wants to be a part of a major competition, especially when a lot of the games are going to be based in England.

"That probably makes it a little bit more special so that is something I obviously want to be a part of.

"It could be anywhere in the world, I would just like to be a part of it. That's not really an extra carrot for me because I just want to be a part of it.

"But my concentration needs to be here and not elsewhere and that's what I'm focusing on. Hopefully that's something I can be a part of in the summer, but I've got to do my job here first to be anywhere near that. That's the most important thing."

Tarkowski, who has earned two England caps, made his 100th appearance in the top flight in the defeat against champions Manchester City at Turf Moor.

The Manchester-born centre back, who started out at Oldham Athletic, was proud to reach such a milestone after an uncertain start to his Burnley tenure.

Tarkowski was behind Ben Mee and Michael Keane in the pecking order on his arrival, but he took his opportunity with both hands when his former team-mate joined Everton in a record move in 2017.

"If you would have asked me a year into my career here when I had probably played about four games then I would have been a bit more speculative about how I would have done," he said.

"But ever since I have got in the team and the manager put his trust into me for that starting position I have just enjoyed playing football and I am enjoying my time at the club.

"I always say that you need a bit of fortune on your side. Michael Keane may never have been sold and I could still be sitting here having only played 20 games.

"Fortunately for me, Keano moved on and left some space which I was able to fill at the time. I've managed to stay there since, but a bit of fortune needs to go your way to get in any team and define how your career goes."

Tarkowski, who made his Premier League debut against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, added: "It is quite big an achievement, only recently did I realise how close I was.

"To get one in the Premier League was something I am really proud of so to get 100 quite quickly after playing my first one is nice and hopefully there are many more to come.

"It is nice because when I came here the goal was to get in the PL and now four or five years on I have played 100 PL games for the club. It is how I always hoped it would go but the expectation is a bit different.

"For it to have gone as well as it has done has been terrific and something I have really enjoyed.

"I feel fortunate to have joined a club that has done so well over the last few years and hopefully can continue that."