Gray learning about life in the top flight
Andre Gray accepts that he's still a student of the Premier League but the Clarets striker is willing to put in the work that will help him graduate with flying colours.
The 25-year-old has endured a frustrating term so far, having had limited game time, but the former Brentford forward admitted that the embryonic stages of his top flight tenure have been an education.
The Championship Player of the Year, who was the division’s top scorer last season with 25 goals, was suspended for four games by the FA in September after being found guilty of misconduct in relation to historical comments made on social media.
Since his return Gray has started just two of five fixtures as boss Sean Dyche opted to stick with the 4-5-1 formation that had brought success against Watford and Everton as well as Arsenal.
“The boys have been doing well so I can’t really complain too much,” he said. “It’s frustrating because I want to play and that’s the first time I’ve been in that situation. It’s a lesson learned and I’ve just got to keep working hard.
“That’s football at the end of the day. The gaffer is going to change formation, people will come in and people will come out.
“It’s not like the Championship last year when we were high and flying and winning every game. You’ve just got to keep your head and keep working hard.”
Gray added: “I’ve learned a lot. Obviously I had that ban so I’ve not played as much as I had hoped this season. I’ve learned a lot and I’ll keep learning, just like I did during my first season in the Championship.
“I just kept learning and in the end I was getting in to my stride. I then came to Burnley with a year’s experience. Hopefully I can keep doing that and keep improving.
“I’ve just had to keep my head down and work hard. It’s a matter of taking your chance when it comes. I just want to put everything else behind me now, keep playing, start scoring and continue learning.”
Tomorrow’s game against AFC Bournemouth, which marks Eddie Howe’s return to Turf Moor, alongside Junior Stanislas and Marc Pugh, kicks off a cluster of huge fixtures for Burnley on home soil.
Following clashes with West Ham United and Spurs, at the London Stadium and White Hart Lane respectively, the Clarets culminate the calendar year against Middlesbrough and Sunderland.
“Every game is key,” said Gray. “We’ve shown that we can play against the big boys as well. We’ve just got to go in to every game with the same mentality and try to get as many points as we can.”
Despite the 2-0 reversal against Stoke City at the Bet365 Stadium, Burnley’s fifth defeat from six away games in the top flight this term, Gray insists that the Clarets are taking strides in the right direction.
“I think we started really well (against the Potters), obviously the two goals were sloppy and the first one was a bit lucky with the finish.
“I think we stuck to the plan and did well but we just couldn’t get the break.”
He added: “Yes, definitely [taken a step forward]. That was the main thing the gaffer said - getting back to ourselves away from home.
“We’ve shown it at home but our away form hasn’t been the best. We put a shift in and put ourselves about.
“That was the main thing and if we keep doing that then the results will come.”