Burnley defender James Tarkowski is hoping to hit new levels after making his first ever start in the Premier League.
The 24-year-old has had to play the waiting game since switching from Griffin Park 15 months ago but the former Brentford man is eager to kick on.
The Oldham-born centre-back, who has operated in a holding midfield role on several occasions this term, was rewarded with a top flight start in the club’s first away win of the season against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
With Ben Mee sidelined through injury, Tarkowski partnered Michael Keane at the heart of the Clarets defence and contributed to a 10th clean sheet of the campaign.
“The media are going to ask me about being patient, it’s rightly so, I’ve got to be patient and bide my time,” he said. “No one wants to sit around for 18 months and play bits and bobs, they want to start every week. That’s the way the game is, but you have to bide your time.
“The manager spoke to me about it. We’ve had two lads in great form, very fit until recently so I’ve had to wait. It’s not easy to do. When you come on and play well and you get three points then it’s worth waiting for.”
Tarkowski added: “Every now and then I’d just go and have a chat (with the manager) and see where things are at. I think you’ve got to keep that communication up.
“That’s what I tried to do. Other players, other staff members, keeping in contact and seeing where you’re at fitness-wise, football-wise, and keeping that communication up.
“You have to look at the long term plan, especially at my age. Ideally you’d come in and start but you have got to look at the long term. You sign a four-year deal it’s more about those four years rather than the first six months, year, 18 months.”
Keane and Mee have formed a bond that has been, on occasions, impenetrable and it’s been a pairing that has proven to be impossible to break.
The former, having earned his stripes at domestic level, was handed his first international cap by England coach Gareth Southgate recently and was subsequently recognised in the PFA Young Player of the Year category, won by Tottenham’s Dele Alli.
Tarkowski is using Keane’s development as inspiration and is determined to gain a similar reputation for himself at Turf Moor.
Keano’s really kicked on since I’ve been here, he’s been outstanding, so has Ben,” he said. “Keano gets a lot of the plaudits, rightly so, Ben’s also been outstanding, it’s not easy to watch, seeing two lads in front of you playing really well week-in week-out.
“I’ve had to bide my time. Hopefully when you come in you get the chance to show how good you are and hopefully people see that as well.
“I think I’ve got to look at Keano and Ben and see how well they’ve done. Keano’s around my age, people are talking about him being a £25million player and he’s played for England.
“For me it’s more about targets, pushing and striving towards that. I train with Keano day-in, day-out, he’s brilliant, I’ve got to work towards that and hopefully I can get to that level in the future.”