FFT's Joe Brewin chats to the marauding Burnley right-back about the Clarets' tough start to the season, his England dreams and... er, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles...
How do you assess Burnley's start to the season? Has it been even more difficult than you expected?
It's obviously been a tough start but in the majority of games I think we've done well and coped with it, even if we haven't been getting the results. We've got a lot to learn but there's a long season ahead. Before we came here we knew it was going to be a tough season, but now we've got a bit of experience in the league, we're looking forward to the rest of it.
- Date of birth: September 19, 1990
- Place of birth: Bury, England
- Height: 5ft 10in
- Position: Right-back
- Former clubs: Man City (youth); Barnsley (loan)
- Current club: Burnley (154 apps, 6 goals)
- Honours: FA Youth Cup (2008), Ch'ship runners-up (2013/14)
What about you personally? How have you found the step up?;
I've found it OK actually. I've been taking my time - we've only played nine games, and the quality of players on my side of the pitch is obviously very high. It's been difficult but I've also enjoyed it.
As a full-back, what are the biggest differences between the Championship and the Premier League? Is it frustrating not getting forward so much?
Players' individual quality for starters - you're going up against quality people like Eden Hazard, and even the likes of Wilfried Zaha who I've also been familiar with in the Championship. It's obviously harder, which I knew it would be, but I'm only going to better myself playing against players of such quality.
How have your defensive duties changed? What does the manager say he wants from you?
It was always going to be different this season with the quality of opposition, so yes it has been a bit frustrating. But in the last four games I've been able to get forward more and put some crosses in, so hopefully more of that is around the corner. The manager hasn't really changed anything from last year. But in this league, if I was bombing on all the time like I could do in the Championship then I'd get caught out. The opposition would exploit the space in a heartbeat. So I have to pick and choose my moments to get forward.
How do you keep spirits up within the squad? Anyone always on hand to crack a joke in the dressing room?
The thing about our squad is the belief we have, and that starts with the manager. We've got a great spirit in our team, as you saw last year, and it's no different this time. We've just got to have some patience, and if we keep going like we have been in the last few games then a win will only be around the corner. Who cracks the jokes? Dean Marney keeps the lads smiling, but we all have a laugh and a joke every day. Nobody is negative or feeling down.
How does it make you feel being written off so early in the season? Do the players ever read message boards, or listen to what the pundits say?
It's the same as last year - we were among the favourites to get relegated and instead we got automatic promotion. We knew we'd be favourites to go down from this league but it doesn't bother us. You've got to go out every game, give 110% and take it from there. We get the paper at the training ground, but any criticism of the team or individuals just goes in one ear and comes out of the other. We've read it all last year - nobody gets distracted by anything in the media.
Any criticism of the team or individuals just goes in one ear and comes out of the other"
What do you think are the three main ingredients you need to stay up?
Belief, confidence and to just keep enjoying it. When things aren't going your way you need to keep believing, and as a squad we do that.
Which of the new signings has impressed you most so far?
George Boyd has impressed - obviously he plays on the same side as me. He's great to play with, with a good left foot and a great engine. But I couldn't just pick one; the manager brought in people like Matthew Taylor with experience, and Marvin [Sordell] who's a powerful striker. We've had a lot of great additions to the squad.
It's not getting any easier going to Arsenal this weekend. How can you upset the odds?
Everybody is expecting us to get beat so all of the pressure will be on Arsenal. We've got to just play as we do, keep smiling and enjoy it - that's the most important thing. We've seen some strange results in the last couple of years.
How is the manager keeping morale high? What's he drilling into the players at the moment?
One of the best things about the manager is the way he speaks to us. We listen to him, take everything in and he helps us a lot. When things aren't going our way people question that. But we have meetings every day where he talks to us, and we take it on board.
Who's the toughest player you've faced so far this season?
Its got to be Eden Hazard. Everyone knows about his quality. It was the first game I'd ever played in the Premier League and it was a difficult night. It was a good game, though [laughs].
How important was it for Danny Ings to get off the mark against Everton on Sunday?
It was big for him. Obviously he hadn't scored up to that point, and with his quality people might have expected him to score loads of goals in this league. I'm happy for him that he got off the mark and hopefully there's a lot more to come from him this season.
Which fixture did you look out for most at the start of the season?
It was always going to be Manchester City, having been there from such a young age. I was a City fan growing up, and I was there from when I just turned eight. I had a good time there.
Sturridge? Even back then, whenever you gave him the ball you knew something good would happen"
How difficult was it to move away from Manchester City for good in 2012? When did you realise that your future didn't lie there?
I don't think it was a hard decision really because I wasn't going to get a chance there with the players they'd brought in and the money they were spending. I knew I didn't really have a chance, and I knew I needed to play games. So I signed for Burnley on loan under Eddie Howe in January, and I didn't have to think twice.
I've never made a better decision - the year after we got promoted to the Premier League. I won the Youth Cup there in 2008 when Sven-Goran Eriksson was in charge, and then Mark Hughes. At that time I was training with the first team, going abroad with them in pre-season and playing in friendlies but then he left and Roberto Mancini came in. A lot of money was spent, and that was when I knew I needed to get out and play.
Do you still keep in touch with anyone from your Youth Cup-winning days at City? What do you make of Daniel Sturridge's rise?
I still speak to Robbie Mak, who was in the Bundesliga with Nuremberg [and now with PAOK in Greece], and John Guidetti is on fire in Scotland for Celtic. So I still speak to a few of the lads I grew up with. Sturridge? Even back then, whenever you gave him the ball you knew something good would happen. It's no surprise that he's doing unbelievably well for Liverpool because you could see it at 16 or 17 when I played with him. I'm happy for him - he can go on to be one of the best players in the world, in my opinion.
You were also around with Micah Richards at City. Is a move like his abroad - like his to Fiorentina - something you'd ever consider?
Maybe one day I'd like to play abroad, but I feel like I need to try to stay in the Premier League for as long as I can. It's the best league in the world and I want to be a Premier League player. But I wouldn't mind going abroad when I'm older.
Have you thought about playing for England yet?
It'd be my dream to play for England. I've played for the younger age groups, and they were proud moments. One of my goals was to get to the Premier League, and I've done that now, but playing for England would be an honour. Who knows what could happen?
My next goal is to try to get a call-up and do as best as I can, but I know there is a lot of competition"
What can you do to put yourself in Roy Hodgson's thoughts? What could you bring to the team?
My next goal is to try to get a call-up and do as best as I can, but I know there is a lot of competition; there are a lot of very good English right-backs out there. I've just got to keep doing well and give the manager an option.
How does it make you feel when you see centre-backs playing at right-back for England? Does that give you more of a chance?
I've only played nine games in the Premier League, so I've got to take things a step at a time before playing for England. But we've got players like John Stones, who was at Barnsley when I was and is excellent, Kyle Walker to come back and Calum Chambers. I know we've been playing centre-backs there but they're doing a good job.
There were strong rumours of a move to Manchester United if David Moyes had stayed. Was there ever anything concrete in that?
I didn't hear anything about it. Obviously the media talked about it but nothing was said and there was no contact. I never heard anything off United.
Away from the pitch, what do you get up to?
Just socialising with my friends; going to the movies and stuff. The last film I saw? The new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles one. It sounds quite boring but it was decent, I enjoyed it.
What about TV box-sets you're watching at the moment? You must have a bit of spare time on your hands on away days…
I've just finished Breaking Bad and Entourage, and now I'm just about to start Homeland.
Are you a FIFA man? Who's the king at Burnley?
I don't really play on FIFA, although the boys do on the coach. I get battered every time I go on it! The king? Scott Arfield. He plays it all the time at home and online - he needs to get a life really...