STRIKER Martin Paterson has labelled his opportunities with the Clarets as a ‘blessing’.
The 25-year-old has been plagued with injury since Owen Coyle brought the former Iron frontman to Turf Moor in June 2008.
After leading the Clarets to a League Cup semi-final and promotion to the Premier League as the club’s leading scorer with 19 goals in all competitions, his career turned sour when suffering knee ligament damage in a Carling Cup loss against Barnsley at Oakwell.
From there Paterson endured a torrid spell under Brian Laws and Eddie Howe, sustaining thigh strains in respective games against Doncaster Rovers during the 2010/11 campaign.
Those problems continued to hamper Paterson’s progression as he limped off in a stalemate with Watford the following season, aggravated a hamstring strain in victories over Boro and Portsmouth last year, and was withdrawn in the New Year’s Day triumph over Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough.
But those setbacks have served as a reminder for Paterson, a representation as to how fortunate he feels with each outing he’s awarded for the Clarets.
“I’ve missed that many games over the last three years that when I get on the field, regardless of where I play, it’s a blessing for me,” he declared. “Deep down I want to play down the middle, I want to score goals, but it’s hard when you’re playing one up front and Charlie (Austin) is scoring with pretty much every touch he has.
“It’s hard to get a game but when you’re called upon you’ve got to make an impression so it was nice to get on (against Peterborough), get a goal and get the point. I feel like I helped the team and that’s the most important thing.”
He added: “It’s been frustrating at times. Obviously I had that little setback with the tight thigh a couple of weeks ago. It’s frustrating but at the end of the day I’m in a great job and I work hard in training so moments like that, even if I’ve only been on for 20 minutes, scoring a goal makes it worthwhile.
“I’ve helped the team again and that means the world to me. I’m delighted and now it’s up to me to push on. I need to try and push the other strikers, though I’ll struggle pushing Charlie with the amount of goals he’s scoring. But I’m ready for the point when I’m called upon.”
Paterson replaced leading scorer Austin in the 73rd minute at London Road, snatching a late point for the Clarets with his first goal since victory over Wolves on home soil in November.
Now he’s determined to better his tally. “I am delighted,” he beamed. “I was saying all week that I was coming close to getting a goal. I got put on up front with Vokes, got myself in the box and when I do that I normally score goals. It’s up to me to score more because I’m disappointed with my tally. I’m working very hard in training, hoping to rectify that.”
And he almost added to his collection immediately, only to be denied a dramatic late winner as goalkeeper Bobby Olejnik flicked his glancing header over the bar in stoppage time.
“I’m not happy with my goal tally and I’m working my socks off in training to change that,” insisted Paterson. “I’m improving, working a lot in the air, and today one of them was almost great. I’m working hard on my game and I’m convinced that when I’m given a few more minutes on the park I’ll score goals.
“To be honest as soon as I’ve touched it I think it’s in. I’ve turned and just seen the keeper’s hand flick it over the bar. Sometimes you just need that little bit of luck; it’s a great save at the end of the day.”
Though a point moved the Clarets closer to the Championship top six, Paterson feels the Clarets failed to fully capitalise on Middlesbrough’s 4-0 thrashing at Portman Road.
“Obviously it’s a point gained on the board but from the way we played in the first half it’s possibly two points dropped,” he said. “We couldn’t get that second goal and if we had we’d have pulled away from them. All in all we’ve managed to nick a goal right at the end to grab a point. You can’t turn your nose up at that but overall we should have won the game.
“There was the possibility of coming away with a 2-1 defeat but we’ve got a point. You’ve got to look at that as a positive and go in to the next game looking for the win. Birmingham at home was disappointing but Dean Marney was wrongly sent off which had an effect on the game.
“If we’d have had 11 last week we’d have won so getting a point here as well would’ve been fantastic. We’d have loved to have won today but we had to settle for a point.”