Clarets midfielder Defour growing stronger by the week
Steven Defour believes that acclimatising to a new style of play is key to completing his first 90 minutes for the Clarets in the Premier League.
While the Belgium international has been integral to the club’s fruitful form in the top flight, the summer signing hasn’t seen out a fixture in its entirety in the eight outings that he’s had so far.
Ahead of Monday evening’s clash at the Hawthorns, where Sean Dyche’s side take on West Bromwich Albion, the 28-year-old accepted that he’d become accustomed to a less demanding brand of football.
During spells in his homeland, where he represented Genk, Standard Liege and Anderlecht, in addition to his stay in Portugal with Porto, the midfielder belonged to sides that bossed possession at the highest level.
For Les Rouches, Defour won five titles including the Belgian Pro League on three occasions, the Belgian Supercup twice as well as the domestic cup competition. The £7.5m signing, a record for the Clarets prior to the capture of Jeff Hendrick, also won the Primeira Liga on two occasions, and the Supertaça Cândido de Oliveira, as Porto cleaned up in respective seasons.
Now, operating in a new tactical system, with a club that is enjoying less of the ball, Defour is shouldering extra responsibility on the pitch as he mixes his quality on the ball with a heightened work-rate when pressing the opposition and tracking back.
When questioned about the demands of England’s elite division, and a necessity to cover more ground, he said: “I noticed it from the first game. We didn’t have a lot of possession of the football and I’m not used to that so I would turn around and work really hard. I have to adapt to that kind of play.
“It’s not really difficult; it’s just another style of play. I think I’m just getting used to things. He (Sean Dyche) is always asking how I feel and I think they see it on the pitch when I get tired.”
Defour added: “Now I’m getting stronger and stronger. I’m getting closer to 90 minutes and then it’s an international break where it’s a different kind of training to here at Burnley.
“I’m hoping now, in this next period, I can play 90 minutes a few times. I’m adapting quickly so I’m enjoying it.”
Meanwhile, Defour feels a more positive atmosphere is aiding his freedom to express himself more when he crosses the white line.
His history and association with Standard led to a hostile and vitriolic reception at the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium. And the venom was terminal.
However, Defour feels the Clarets will see the best of him due to the welcome that he’s had since moving to Turf Moor.
“It’s really amazing,” he said. “In the away games the Burnley fans are amazing. Also in the home games they’re singing for 90 minutes and they’re giving us a little push in the back to go out and get these three points every time.
“It gives you more confidence on the pitch to take some risks. Those risks I’ve taken are working out pretty well and the fans like it so I’m playing a few percent better with their support.
“It’s really good. From the beginning of the season we’ve been playing pretty well and we’ve got some good results. I’m really looking forward to it because I think I’m in a good place with Burnley.”