JACK Cork might have been a regular for England age-group sides, but the Clarets midfielder felt the chance to earn a senior cap for the Three Lions was slipping away before his move to Turf Moor.
Cork was a rising star of the England youth set-up as he made his way through the ranks at Chelsea, but after 13 caps for the under-21s and representing Great Britain at the 2012 Olympics a call-up to the senior squad hadn’t been forthcoming.
In recent years Cork’s name hadn’t even been in the frame for international honours, but his £10million move to Burnley this summer has seen him back to his best and a string of impressive performances in the Clarets midfield saw him called-up by Gareth Southgate for the friendlies with Germany and Brazil.
And Cork was able to complete the collection with England when he came off the bench at Wembley against world champions Germany, capping a memorable four months since he swapped the Liberty Stadium for Turf Moor.
“It’s felt like it was getting further away, I’m 28 now and with the way he’s looking at it and the way the younger teams are doing, you wonder whether it would have come,” Cork said of his first cap.
“I’m just lucky and thankful. He did say people would be picked on form, and we have been in good form.
“It wasn’t one of the main things on my mind (when I signed for Burnley), my main thought was the club and trying to do well here, keep up the good start and get to the 40 points. It was a real bonus.”
Cork might have faced the best in the world on his international bow, he wasn’t for swapping shirts with any of Germany’s star names.
“I wanted to keep my shirt, you can’t swap the first one,” the former Southampton midfielder said.
“We had Ian Wright come in (and present the shirts) for the first game, Frank Lampard the second. It was great to see someone like that, when I was at Chelsea, as a young lad, he was one of the big players doing it for the country as well, for the club he was scoring goals every week, for me growing up, him, John Terry, Ashley Cole, Joe Cole – that British core we looked up to.
“So to have someone like that in the dressing room taking about their experiences, their first call up, was eye opening.”
Cork’s first taste of international action come have come at the perfect time with Southgate looking at his options for next summer’s World Cup, and the Clarets midfielder is determined to impress with Burnley now and try and force his way into the next squad in March.
“I think there’s the two in March and two before the tournament, so I think he’s said you’ve got to be playing for your club, playing well and be in good shape. That’s all I can try and do,” he said.
“I know a lot of players missed out that will probably be higher up the list for the next one, but I’ve just got to try and make sure we’re doing well here.
“Gareth’s done a good job, he’s said he’ll pick people on form and give young players a chance, and he has done.
“Everyone’s seen if we do throw young lads in, they’re not far off it, they’ve had that experience and a little push, and the lads that did play were amazing, Reuben and Joe especially.
“Sometimes people just need that chance and a bit of luck.”
Source : LancashireTelegraph