Chris Flanagan chats male grooming, running, Premier League survival and working in a sweet shop with Burnley's industrious wideman...
Living in Manchester you don't realise how many City fans are around. In the little Tesco they weren't too happy when I walked in
What's the general mood like after last weekend's dramatic defeat to Leicester? That must have hurt...
We were really disappointed and it's taken us a few days to get over. That's how cruel football can be. If the penalty goes in I think we win the game. Leicester set up with three big centre-halves, they didn't want to lose, and they got lucky on the break. But we still feel we've got a great chance. We've got four winnable games and we've got to concentrate on ourselves. If we win four games we'll be fine.
Does the fact that your survival chances are being written off bother the players?
It's no different now – we've had it all season, so it doesn't mean anything to us. As Leicester have shown, the points can soon be eaten up. We're still very confident we can go to West Ham and get three points.
What has been Sean Dyche's message to the squad this week?
He's just been positive. It's another massive game on Saturday, we'll go hard and do what we've been doing all season. He's been brilliant by keeping everyone positive. Obviously we were bitterly disappointed but there are another four games left and a lot of points still to be won.
What has this season been like for you at Burnley?
I've loved it, I've been playing week in, week out in the Premier League. Not a lot of us have played there before, so we've not had a lot of experience at the top level, but we've all enjoyed it. Most of the team have proved they can perform at this level.
What have been the highlights of the season so far?
There have been a lot – coming from 2-0 down at Manchester City, the 3-3 draw at Newcastle was a great game, and obviously Manchester City at home. It was Burnley's first win against City for a long while and a massive three points at the time. Scoring that goal was one of my proudest moments, definitely. It was one of those where you catch it so sweetly, you know straight away that it's going in. Living in Manchester you don't realise how many City fans are around, so it put me in the limelight a bit. In the little Tesco near me they're all City fans and they weren't too happy when I walked in the day after...
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Who is the best player you've faced this season?
I'd say Santi Cazorla. Both times we played Arsenal he was exceptional. He doesn't give the ball away and his change of direction, his passing and his dribbling are unbelievable. He's stood out for me.
Danny Ings has received a lot of plaudits this season. How good is he?
He will go to the very top, he's got all the ingredients. He can hold the ball up well, he's scored a few goals and technically he's probably better than most people think. He's been great for us this season and hopefully he stays with us a bit longer, but you just don't know.
Has there been a bit of joking with him about the huge number of clubs he's been linked with this season?
We were saying the other day, we're getting bored of it now! But he's a really down-to-earth guy, he's not letting all the press stuff get in his way. He's concentrating on Burnley and if he does well for us it can only benefit his career in the long run.
Ings is probably better than most people think. Hopefully he stays with us a bit longer, but you just don't know
The statistics say that you've run further than any other player in the Premier League this season. Do you have an athletics background?
No, not really. I did a few cross country events for school but that was it really, nothing major. I've never run a marathon – I'll try that when I've finished playing. My mate did the London Marathon on Sunday in just under five hours, and he was really chuffed. I'll give it a go.
Most of our game at Burnley is pressing teams and running, so there are a few of us who are in the top 10 of the Premier League running stats. It's something that the manager prides himself on.
When you played for Stevenage you were known as the White Pele – did you like that nickname?
[Laughs] It was a bit better than the Marathon Man! Apparently some people are calling me Jesus as well now; I need to get my hair cut or at least have a shave. I need to find a good hairdresser up north, I've been letting it grow. It's something I've had stick from fans about all my career, I've heard it all...
FFT hears your idol was Attilio Lombardo...
Yes, the Bald Eagle! He was brilliant. I grew up a Crystal Palace fan and I loved watching him.
How hard was it when you were released by Charlton as a youngster?
It was very hard, I was there from nine to 15. It was difficult when I got released and you can see why so many people fall out of the game. Only one or two from our team got signed on YTS forms and the rest are nowhere now. It's difficult to get back in after that setback but I think if you just stick with it, you'll get spotted if you're good enough.
I need to get my hair cut or at least have a shave. I need a good hairdresser up north, I've been letting it grow. It's something I've had stick from fans about all my career
Is it true that when you signed for Stevenage, you worked in a sweet shop to pay for your train fares home?
Yes, tough times! It was brilliant though. I worked in the sweet shop at Hitchin and it was the first time I'd ever worked. It was a good experience. It was only to get my train journey home, and it was only five hours a week – nothing too straining.
How did your debut for Stevenage go?
I had a nightmare, I was subbed at half-time. I was only 17, we were losing 2-0 against Margate and I came off.
I think the manager got sacked a few days afterwards. I had to wait a long time after that, because when the new manager came in he didn't really look at the youth team for 18 months. It was difficult going back to the youth team but finally I got a few substitute appearances towards the end of the next season and broke through the one after that. They were good times. For anyone to go down and get that experience at 17 or 18, where it's proper men's football, is brilliant.
At Peterborough you worked under Darragh MacAnthony and Barry Fry. Who was the most unconventional?
Definitely Baz – he's loud in any room but he's a great character and he'd look after you. Darragh was the same, he looked after me brilliantly at Peterborough and they were a big part of my career. They're opinionated sometimes, but they're good businessmen and they've done well.
My Stevenage debut was a nightmare. I was subbed at half-time. I was only 17 and we were losing 2-0 against Margate. I think the manager got sacked a few days afterwards...
How difficult was it when your move from Peterborough to Nottingham Forest collapsed on deadline day in 2013, and the reason given was an inconclusive eye test?
I think it was a blessing in disguise in the end. Just after that I went to Hull, got promoted with them straight away and Forest haven't done since. I think everything happens for a reason. Obviously it was a bit of a shambles but it's all worked out well. It was stupid, though – we were shocked because it was so late on deadline day and I'd rejected other clubs to go to Forest.
That was the most annoying thing, that we couldn't get anything else done. But it was an amazing couple of years at Hull, so it all worked out fine.
What did it mean to play in the FA Cup final and in Europe for Hull?
Playing in the cup final was a dream come true. I didn't think I'd get on in the end, but it was an unbelievable feeling coming on – it's every boy's dream to play in an FA Cup final. We were so close to winning as well after an unbelievable start, but Arsenal's quality showed in the end. Europe was amazing too, even though we went out a bit earlier than we would have liked.
Is a return to the Scotland squad still an ambition for you as well?
Definitely. I've not been in the last few squads, they're doing really well and Gordon Strachan has got a squad who can go further. I've just got to keep doing well for my club and hopefully I can get back into the squad.
We hear you like a game of Football Manager–how's that going at the moment?
We played it a bit when we went to Spain for a break recently, but you know what it's like, you play it for a few times at the beginning and then get bored of it. Scotty Arfield's the best at it, he plays quite a bit.
Finally, your team-mate Ashley Barnes drives a Smart car. How do the players deal with that one?
[Laughs] He's still getting stick now! We've told him to get rid of it for ages, but he won't do it...