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Burke passes milestone

Posted: Wed 05 Feb 2014
Author: Sean Cole

It’s testament to Chris Burke’s stamina and consistency that just two-and-a-half years into his time at the club, he's already the player with the most first-team appearances of the current squad.

His 137th in all competitions came on Saturday against Derby County, in a game in which he also scored his side's second goal in the 3-3 draw against the Rams after coming off the substitutes' bench. 

That was the Scot's sixth strike of the season and puts him level as the club's top-scorer this term alongside Lee Novak.


But it is in his role as provider that the Scottish winger usually excels. At joint tenth in the Sky Bet Championship assist charts, he remains one of the most effective wide men in the division. All this from an inauspicious start to the campaign in which he was dropped to the bench as the manager experimented with a 3-5-2 formation. Burke accepted the decision stoically and, after a couple of excellent cameos, regained his starting spot for the visit of Ipswich. An impressive performance was crowned with one of his specialties, cutting inside to curl the ball past the keeper with his left foot.

He hasn't looked back since, starting all but three league games from then on. In the process he's rekindled his partnership with Paul Caddis on the right side. They developed a real understanding during the latter's loan spell and both share an attacking style.

“Paul’s a very good footballer. He's got a footballing brain and he likes to pass the ball, with little intelligent one-twos and overlaps. It's just about both of us knowing where the other one is. We work well together and long may it continue,” said Burke.

“I obviously like to play week in, week out, which I'm fit enough to do. On the right side I feel as though we're strong and I'm linking well with Paul. We look to get as many crosses as possible into the box, getting assists and chipping in with some goals as well. That's what it comes down to; getting the end product right.”

As one of the club's prize assets, Burke was naturally the subject of speculation during last month's transfer window, but boss Lee Clark stated at the time that he had no intention of cashing in on him.

“It’s a very good thing to hear – you wouldn't want the manager to say the opposite,” laughs the winger. “Obviously he wants to keep who he thinks will offer something."
 
Ever since that spectacular first campaign with the club, where Burke deservedly scooped up three Player of the Season awards, he's been linked with moves away. Most notably to Nottingham Forest, who eagerly pursued his signature last January. Despite the interest he’s stayed put so far and remains keen to do so in the long-term.

“My contract's up altogether this summer. Nothing's been discussed, probably because of the way the club is at the moment. At this time I think it's very difficult to be concentrating on one player, the club has to get sorted before myself or anyone else – that's only fair. That's the priority for us to move forward,” admits the 30-year-old Scot.

“Of course I'm happy. As I've said, family's the most important thing to me and I always have to do right by them. We'll have to wait and see what happens; I couldn't tell you anything at the moment. I've been here three seasons now and there's always been stuff to get sorted behind the scenes. I hope I'm still here when everything is.” 

Burke, club captain Paul Robinson and goalkeeper Darren Randolph will be the guests at the forthcoming Three men and a mic evening at St. Andrew's on Monday 17 February. Click the image below for more details.

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