Jack Cork: Watford handed me an opportunity that not many youngsters get in today's game

Midfielder Jack Cork in action for Watford in 2009 as he tries to fend off Crystal Palace's Danny Butterfield
Midfielder Jack Cork in action for Watford in 2009 as he tries to fend off Crystal Palace's Danny Butterfield

Burnley's Jack Cork will be eternally grateful to Watford for the instrumental role the club played in his development as a player.

The Hornets handed the midfielder the opportunity to learn his trade at Vicarage Road as a teenager in the Championship, a schooling he feels isn't available to many youngsters in today's game.

The former Chelsea man was stationed in Hertfordshire for half-a-season on loan in 2009, just months before signing up for his first spell at Turf Moor.

Brendan Rodgers, who had worked with Cork at Stamford Bridge when head youth coach of the Chelsea Academy, bestowed the one-time England international with 18 league starts as Watford finished 13th.

"It was really good," he said. "It was Brendan's first job in management and he took me with him. It was just what I needed at the time.

"I'd spent the first half of the season on loan at Southampton and I was just learning the game really.

"I was only 19 and I feel the game has changed a lot in the 10 years I've been playing. I don't think you get many players going out on loan at that age to Championship clubs anymore.

"The setup has changed for the under 23s; you're looking at taking 22/23-year-old players on loan and you're getting people who've missed five years of development because they haven't had that chance.

"They've been sat in Under 23 leagues and they're development is delayed a little bit. I feel you don't get those kind of chances anymore in that league, which I feel were beneficial to a lot of players in my era."

While the Clarets have yet to win away from home so far this season, Enrique Sanchez Flores' side are also searching for their first maximum on home soil.

Tomorrow's opponents landed their first victory of the campaign at the 12th attempt, beating Norwich City 2-0 at Carrow Road.

However, Cork understands that the challenge will be much tougher than Watford's form might suggest.

The 30-year-old, who netted in this fixture in April 2018 when Sean Dyche's men secured a 2-1 triumph, said: "It's a tough one because it's the Premier League. In all the years that I've been playing in this league there is never, ever an easy game.

"Watford have got some great players, last season they got to the FA Cup final and finished in the top half. They've still got that same group really.

"We'll be going there trying to get a first away win and they'll be trying to get a first home win of the season. It will be a tough game so if we can get a win or a point it will be brilliant for us."