"I wouldn't be surprised to end up in goal or maybe as striker," jokes Burnley defender Erik Pieters

Burnley's "Mr Versatile", Erik Pieters, believes the competition at left back is helping to bring out the best in himself and Charlie Taylor.

Wednesday, 7th April 2021, 11:57 am

The position has been shared between the two in the Premier League this season, with both enduring spells on the sidelines through injury.

The Dutchman has made nine starts at left back, in comparison to Taylor's 21, but the ex-Stoke City defender's form was recognised with an extended deal at Turf Moor.

The 32-year-old prolonged his stay after an option to extend his contract until the end of the 2021-22 season was activated by the club at the end of January.

Eberechi Eze of Crystal Palace is challenged by Erik Pieters of Burnley during the Premier League match between Burnley and Crystal Palace at Turf Moor on November 23, 2020 in Burnley, England.

"I always believe you have to have a minimum of two players in every position," said Pieters. "That drives the one who is playing to become better and be sharp and make sure he stays because there is someone in line to replace him.

"With injuries as well it is always good to have a back-up. I think having two players in every single position is really useful in different ways.

"I love competition to prove I am the better one and Charlie is the same so we have a good relationship. It is good and we are nice and chilled, relaxed about it.

"We do our thing and everything is focused on Burnley and not our personal thing, we keep that aside. We are here for Burnley, the team, the lads and the first level is to give everything and they know we are here for them.

Erik Pieters of Burnley is challenged by Raheem Sterling of Manchester City during the Carabao Cup fourth round match between Burnley and Manchester City at Turf Moor on September 30, 2020 in Burnley, England.

"Everyone has each other's back so if someone gets injured or something goes wrong someone else can stand up."

Pieters has made 24 appearances in total across all competitions this term while appearing in a number of roles.

The former Holland international, who made his 50th appearance for the Clarets against Southampton at St Mary's, has operated as a defender and a midfielder down both sides of the pitch.

The Tiel-born full back, who was nursing a hamstring strain when substituted against the Saints, said: "For me I just want to play, no matter what position I am put in I will do my best for the team.

Harvey Barnes of Leicester City battles for possession with Erik Pieters of Burnley during the Premier League match between Leicester City and Burnley at The King Power Stadium on September 20, 2020 in Leicester, England.

"Of course you feel more comfortable playing in your natural position because it is what you were born to do and it is pure in your mind.

"But I have played right back, right wing, left wing and I think if we get a couple more injuries then I wouldn't be surprised to end up in goal or maybe as striker!

"I will do my best in every single game and give 100 percent, sometimes it goes well and sometimes a bit less but it is part of the job I am happy to do for myself and for the team.

"I think I have shown to myself and to everyone that I can play in multiple positions and I think it is really good for the gaffer knowing that I am always able to play in multiple positions and be available for the team."

Pieters added: "I definitely have more respect for a couple of positions. As a natural defender it is a bit unusual to play as a wide midfielder but it is a good learning thing for me.

"I have got the ability to play in different positions, I know I can play in basically every position on the pitch but it is trying to get your head around it and see where you have to move.

"If you work in the back line it is a bit easier but in midfield you have players in front and behind you so it is different.

"Having grown up back in the Netherlands I learnt the game really well so I knew I could do it. It is always then how well you can do in certain games.

"I think I can look back at a couple of good games and a couple which were a bit harder but if you work hard and give everything that's already 50% of the job done. It has been a nice thing to do and I don't mind doing it for the team in the future."