Burnley defender aiming to remain first choice left back
DANNY Lafferty knew there would not be a short-cut into the Burnley first team.
But now he has made it, he is determined to stay there for the long haul.
The left back was in and out of the side for his first season and a half at Turf Moor – under both Eddie Howe, the manager who signed him from Derry City in January 2012, and current boss Sean Dyche.
But after starting the season in the back four, following a pre-season injury to Ben Mee, Lafferty is determined to keep his fit-again team-mate at arm’s length.
“I think the management here have given me the opportunity since they came in so I’m grateful to them,” said the Northern Ireland international.
“Maybe the fact that I’ve tried to be quite patient and keep working hard is paying off now that I’m in the team.
“As long as I’m playing I’m happy.
“There’s competition here. As much as Ben has had bad luck with injuries it’s given me the opportunity to get in there and start the season and I feel like I’ve turned a corner with that.
“I’m happy that I’m playing and I’ll try to keep performing so that I can stay in the team and keep that going personally.”
Lafferty has rave reviews from his international camp to back up his bid.
Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill described the defender’s performance in last week’s 1-0 win over Russia as “outstanding”.
“It’s got me the recognition as well at international level,” he said.
“We got a good result recently. It was unbelievable.
“They are the nights you look back on at the end of your career and be glad to have been part of it.
“It was a great occasion for Northern Ireland to take a scalp like that, beating one of top nations.
“It doesn’t happen often, especially with Northern Ireland.
“We have a funny way of throwing up those results once every three or four years – beating Spain and England.
“It was a good night. We have a nice squad at the minute too with a mixture of youth and experience.”
Lafferty feels that situation is matched for him at club level too, with Burnley going to Brighton tomorrow looking to stretch their unbeaten start to five games.
Despite a change of manager at the AMEX, with Oscar Garcia replacing Gus Poyet in the summer, the left back is expecting another stern test, but stressed: “We’re going there with a clear mind and no fear.
“We know that Brighton are a decent side and will try to play football so we’ll go there and keep trying to do what we’ve been doing - put in a hard shift but show our own quality on the ball.
“I think they will still try to play the same style of football because they have another foreign manager.
“They’ll probably try to play a similar way and they’ve got similar personnel.
“We’ll try to counteract that and upset them and then try to enforce our own style of play on the game.
“Our confidence is on a high at the minute so I don’t see why we can’t go down there and come away with a win, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we did.”
Lafferty added: “We’re happy with how we’ve started so far. We’d have taken two wins and a draw at the start of the season if it had been offered to us.
“We just want to keep the momentum going at a tough place like Brighton against a good team like Brighton.
“We’re happy with how we’ve started but we know we’ve got a good team there. Even though the squad’s quite small and thin we’re very happy in ourselves and confident we can keep it going and try to stay unbeaten for as long as possible.
“It’s hard in this league especially because there are fine margins between winning and losing; there’s very little between most teams.
“Consistency’s a hard thing to come by but we’ve just got to go into each game in the right frame of mind looking to keep performing the way we have been in the previous league games.
“There’s no short cut. It’s all about hard work.”
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