Clarets’ target for next season is the same – to avoid relegation

Whatever Burnley go on to achieve this season, midfielder Jack Cork insists the priority for the next campaign will be avoiding relegation.

The Clarets are within touching distance of a place in the Europa League and will climb above Arsenal into sixth place in the Premier League table if they beat stuttering Chelsea at Turf Moor on Thursday.

It has been a remarkable season by any standard but Cork knows the pitfalls that can come with raised expectations.

He said: “It would be hard to build on a season as good as this. I’ve been in teams before where we’ve had great seasons, got carried away, and it’s just not worked. The league is a tough league so for us to have a good start and try to get to 40 points will always be the marker for every season.

“It’s just nice to enjoy this moment now where we’re playing well and hopefully we do end the season how we want to finish.”

The tone for Burnley’s season was set on the first day, when they went to Stamford Bridge and led 3-0 at half-time before holding on for a 3-2 victory against the defending champions.

Draws against Tottenham and Liverpool and a win over Everton followed and, barring a 12-game winless run between December and February, they have barely put a foot wrong.

Cork said: “The first game of the season, you go to somewhere like Chelsea who’ve just won the league, and for us to go there and put in the performance we did was great.

“It was 3-0 at half-time and I think a lot of the lads couldn’t believe what was going on. It really set us up for the season. After those first few games we thought maybe we can do something.”

Emotions have been rather different at Chelsea, the club where Cork began his career but never made a senior appearance. They look set to miss out on the Champions League while uncertainty concerning the future of manager Antonio Conte has dominated the season.

“They’ve had an OK season,” said Cork. “You hear different things coming out from the club, I don’t know what’s going on there. It seems they might be having a few difficulties but it’s a big team, massive club.

“Maybe they want to get this season done and focus on the next year so it’ll be a good chance for us to get something from the game.”

Cork has been a rock in the Burnley midfield, playing every minute of every Premier League match after rejoining the club he first spent time at on loan from Chelsea eight years ago last summer.

His performances earned him an England call-up in November but his World Cup hopes have faded, with James Tarkowski and Nick Pope now the men hoping to represent the Clarets in Russia.

The 28-year-old said: “He (England boss Gareth Southgate) put a lot of the players that he’s looking to take in the last squad and maybe I won’t be involved this one but hopefully if we can have a good season next year then maybe I can try and get in for some games.”

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Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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