Northern Ireland defender Daniel Lafferty relishing challenge of Premier League football with Burnley

Northern Ireland go through their paces ahead of Friday night's friendly against Uruguay
Northern Ireland go through their paces ahead of Friday night's friendly against Uruguay

Northern Ireland defender Daniel Lafferty admits he is not sure if the prospect of playing Premier League football next season has “fully sunk in yet”.

Burnley finished runners-up in the Sky Bet Championship to book their place in top-flight of English football.

Lafferty is currently on international duty, preparing for Northern Ireland’s friendly showdowns with World Cup finalists Uruguay and Chile.

When the 26-year-old does head back to Turf Moor it will be with a brand new three-year contract and the prospect of Premier League football following the Clarets’ unexpected promotion last term.

Although the left-back was far from a driving force in that campaign, making just 12 appearances in all competitions and none since January, manager Sean Dyche’s decision to tie him to the club until 2017 was a major show of faith.

And, for a player who was plying his trade with Derry City in the League of Ireland until January 2012, it completes a phenomenal rise to the top.

“I’m not sure if the reality of playing in the Premier League has fully sunk in yet,” he said.

“I’ll be pinching myself when I do. To walk out at Old Trafford or Anfield would be unbelievable considering where I was three years ago.

“It will be an amazing experience to get the chance of playing in those kind of arenas against some top-class opponents.

“It’s very exciting for me to have signed a new contract and I’m quite flattered by it to be honest. I didn’t play as much as I’d like this season, and only about 40 times since I’ve been at the club, so for the manager to turn around and give me three years, as a player with no Premier League experience, was a boost.

“There are guys who played a lot more than me this year who’ve been let go, so for the manager to show that faith in me is very nice and I want to repay that on the pitch in the next few years.

“In pre-season I want to be competing and fighting for my place.”

First up is Friday night’s game with Uruguay – who are in England’s World Cup group – in Montevideo.

But Lafferty is ready to show that can be done in Montevideo.

“We aren’t silly enough to think we’ll dominate games possession wise, but anyone who’s watched football in the last few weeks will know that doesn’t necessarily count for a lot,” he added.