James Tarkowski is aiming to replaced injured defender John Stones in England’s Euro 2020 qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Montenegro.
The 26-year-old Burnley centre-back has returned to Gareth Southgate’s squad having missed the last international break through injury.
Tarkowski collected his two England caps either side of the World Cup, having been on standby for Russia before requiring a hernia operation which meant he would not have been able to deputise if called upon.
Even though the Clarets have shipped 59 goals in the Premier League so far this season – with only Fulham conceding more – Tarkowski has done enough to earn a recall, having undergone further surgery on the troublesome hernia issue earlier in the campaign.
But he does not intend to be just a spectator as the clamour for places in a strong line-up continues to increase, with Southgate a defender light following Stones’ withdrawal due to a groin problem.
“Obviously Stonesy isn’t here so there is a position vacant at the moment,” said Tarkowski.
“I want to be a part of the team and be playing, but I understand how hard it is just to make the squad never mind make the starting XI. But I will be doing everything I can to impress.
“It is nice to know that the people in charge of picking the teams believe in the player you are and what you are doing.
“I don’t think I am the finished article. I always work hard on my game to improve and, knowing the managers are backing the work I’m doing, it gives you the confidence to go out there and show what you can do.”
Southgate and club manager Sean Dyche clearly feel Tarkowski can cut it at the top level as the Burnley boss praised the ex-Brentford man for making it back into the squad.
The pair, too, also appear to be in agreement on winger Dwight McNeil, the 19-year-old having broken into the Burnley side since the turn of the year.
A former Manchester United youngster, McNeil was called into the Under-20 squad for the first time, only to then be informed he was to train with the senior side on Tuesday.
“Dwight has been terrific, for a lad of his age nothing seems to phase him,” Tarkowski said of his Turf Moor team-mate.
“He just seems to enjoy playing football and having the ball at his feet. It was great for him to be here and be outside training with the seniors.
“It was probably a great surprise to him but once again he was not phased, just playing football and showing how good he can be.
“I came down for breakfast and could see his head there when he was getting some food. I asked him what he was doing and he said he had been called up to the seniors to train for the day.
“What an opportunity for him, his age and the way it has turned around in the last six months from not really being involved to starting every week at Burnley and training with the England seniors. What an opportunity that is and hopefully things are getting better for him.”
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