Striker Ashley Barnes admits losing out on promotion last year was “a kick in the teeth.”
And he is determined to seize a second opportunity to play in the Premier League, even if it comes at the expense of former club Brighton.
Barnes made the switch from the Seagulls in the first week of the transfer window, and could face his old teammates tonight at Turf Moor.
He suffered play-off heartbreak with Albion in May, knocked out at the semi-final stage by Crystal Palace, who went on to beat Watford at Wembley to win promotion, and the 24-year-old is eager to make amends this time round.
Burnley are third in the Championship, a point behind Saturday’s opponents QPR, and nine behind leaders Leicester, with a game in hand, and Barnes said: “It was a very stressful time in my career last season. You have so many ups and downs, so hopefully I can come out on top this year.
“It was a kick in the teeth last year. You go home and you think ‘what the hell just happened?’
“It was difficult to take but you bounce back, believe in your own ability and that you’ll make it.
“I’m here now and I hope I can get promoted with Burnley, and hopefully in the top two rather than through the play-offs.”
Three points tonight would be a big boost to those hopes, and Barnes is convinced the quality is there to achieve their goal: “The lads have had a heads-up, it will be a difficult game, but nothing that we can’t handle.
“We’re in the top three for a reason and that’s where we deserve to be from the lads’ performances in the first half of the season.
“We’ve just come out of the top two and we have hardly been out of the top two all season.
“I just want to help us get back up there.
“Leicester are flying at the moment. They’re a game in hand and they’re going on a little run, so why can’t we?
“As soon as you can open up a points gap it gives you a little bit of leeway, so we’ll push to get to the top two, for sure.”
Barnes has made two substitute appearances so far, as he waits for his first start and goal, but while he would be delighted to get off the mark tonight, he would respect his former employers: “I won’t celebrate. I will deep down inside, being the first goal, but I wouldn’t disrespect them.”
But he is willing to pass on any inside information on Brighton if required: “I’m sure I will once the teamsheet comes.
“I still speak to them and I’m still close to quite a few of the lads, which is good.
“I’ll hopefully try to get as much information out of them as possible to help us, but it will be very interesting to see them all and play against them.
“It will be a bit strange, but it will be a special moment. I had four great years there and left on a high. Now I’ve got a new chapter in my life.”
Barnes has moved his young family into a new house already, and is settling into life in the north, after playing all his career so far down south.
It is a move of almost 300 miles, which was maybe on his mind when preparing his initiation song at last week’s training camp in Alicante: “I sang the Proclaimers (500 miles).
“It was just something catchy and all the boys joined in so that was good enough for me.
“I needed a song just to get all the boys going.”