Clarets striker Sam Vokes beamed “it’s good to be back” after making his first appearance in over nine months as a late substitute against Liverpool.
The Wales international hit 21 goals last season to help fire Burnley to promotion, but suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate knee ligament injury against champions Leicester City at the end of March.
It has been a long road back for the amiable 25-year-old, but, after a raft of goals in five appearances for the Development Squad, was deemed ready for a place on the bench against the Reds.
Vokes said: “It’s great to be back. It was tough to take with the result, but on a personal note nice to be back out on the pitch.
“I’ve been itching to get back over the last couple of months or so, but it’s been a long time plan and it’s come together nicely.
“It was a tough one to take at the time, but when you get your head around it, I was told to aim for the New Year and nine months later I’d probably have taken this.”
Vokes comes back into a squad defying expectations in the Premier League by being in touch with their rivals at the bottom end of the table, and he has been encouraged by performances in his absence: “It was always going to be tough, but if you look at performances like this, it shows this is where we deserve to be, holding our own.
“The lads have come on, the first five, 10 games we were getting used to it, but we’re not getting turned over in games, and unlucky not to come out with anything here.”
Vokes was briefly reunited with Danny Ings, who netted 26 goals last term and has another four this, and he feels he has improved: “We all saw it last year, and he’s kicked on another level. It was good to get back out there with him.”
Ashley Barnes has been excellent in Vokes’ absence, both in the run in and since the start of last month, while Lukas Jutkiewicz and Marvin Sordell have added to the striking pool, and Vokes welcomes the competition: “Theres a lot of competition, and it can only be good for the club. Barnesey has been fantastic, got a couple of match-winning goals.”
And he had a word for the fans after a magnificent reception before the game, and on his arrival off the bench: “It was great, fantastic. A lot of people have been in contact, and it’s good to have that backing.”