Andrew Bikey in the form of his life for Burnley FC

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HE may have cut his hair, but unlike Samson, Andre Bikey seems to have become stronger!

The dreadlocks went after a difficult summer, after Burnley's relegation from the Premier League, and his subsequent omission from the Cameroon World Cup squad.

However, not only is he back with the Indomitable Lions under new coach Javier Clemente, he is back in the Burnley side lying fifth in the Championship ahead of tonight's trip to Middlesbrough.

The beaming smile is back, and he has set his sights on helping the Clarets win promotion at the first attempt.

He said: "Right now we're feeling strong, especially for the game at Middlesbrough.

"There's a big motivation for everyone.

"The dressing room is happy, everyone is confident.

"I hope that feeling's going to stay there."

Asked about his disappointing close season, he was philosophical, saying: "My motivation now is to try to get promotion, and I think we will because we've got a Premier League team.

"I hope we can play like we know we can and get that promotion."

Bikey has arguably been the stand out performer for Burnley so far, as they have amassed three wins, a draw and a defeat from their opening five games, and, indeed, the club warded off a bid from Turkish side Galatasaray just before deadline day.

And, like boss Brian Laws, he knows full well the side have not performed anywhere near their capabilities to date.

They got out of jail in the Lancashire derby on Saturday, coming from 3-1 down with seven minutes left to beat Preston 4-3.

And Bikey admits he has not been involved in anything like that before.

He said: "I'm happy because we didn't play as well as we normally do, but we got the victory, and that's the most important thing.

"I hope we're going to keep going like that. I'm sure we'll take some beating.

"Right now, we're not at the level we expect to be because we've made some mistakes.

"In the last game, we missed a lot of passes and they hurt us on the counter attack.

"But we've got the passion to come back.

"The last game was amazing. And in the end it was a very good performance.

"I'm happy with that right now and I hope we can keep going.

"It was incredible. I've never played in a game like that."

The former Reading man is visibly enjoying his football again, and he is building quite a stockpile of champagne after a string of man-of-the-match performances to date.

After a stint in midfield, he is back where he feels he is at his best, at centre-back, and he said: "I've got two bottles now. I'm going to keep them.

"I never drink it, I just keep it at home.

"But I am happier back in defence.

"When I signed, it was as a centre-back.

"It's true, I can play in central midfield, like the other manager used me.

"But to be fair I'm happier and more confident when I play at the back because I've played in that position for five years.

"It was only in the last year that I played some games in midfield, so I'm happy to play at the back."

And he revealed the new look has no added meaning to it, he simply fancied a change.

He said: "I went a long time with long hair. It was time to change it a little bit.

"That's why I decided to cut it and be like normal people!

"I didn't tell anyone that I was going to do it.

"But it's okay."