Burnley midfielder Steven Defour on the mend after frustrating spell on the sidelines

Clarets midfielder Steven Defour
Clarets midfielder Steven Defour

Steven Defour is hoping to get an uninterrupted run in the first team after suffering a frustrating spell with injury.

It was this time last year that the former Belgium international had been written off for the rest of the season having required surgery on a lingering knee problem.

The operation went to plan but in the summer the 30-year-old sustained a groin problem, which delayed his return to action.

Defour finally made his first appearance after eight months on the sidelines in the Carabao Cup defeat to Burton Albion at the Pirelli Stadium but, in the aftermath, it proved to be the same old story.

Further setbacks in training, and niggles during games, has limited the one-time Anderlecht man to just nine starts this term and he's completed 90 minutes on two occasions.

Defour was involved in Burnley's FA Cup obligations, including the 5-0 loss to Manchester City, but was left out of the squad for the trip to Old Trafford midweek due to a minor calf strain.

It has been more stop than start for the midfielder so far but, after taking a more cautious approach during his rehabilitation, he feels that he's finally on the mend.

"It's good to be back out there," he said. "I was looking sharp out of possession [against City], I tried to bring that calmness and drive forward with the ball. It was good for me to be there.

"It took a while to get the knee right, it caused secondary problems with the calves and everything. I didn't look very good in my first spell against Palace and before against Newcastle.

"I couldn't do everything on the pitch that I wanted to so it was better to stop for a little bit and try to find out what was going wrong.

"We found the problem and then I just had to work my way back, get the training in and the games. Now I need to stay fit.

"I was fine. I felt really good physically. You need to be 100% in the Premier League and I'm getting close now. It has been frustrating because you feel ready and you want to be out on the pitch but sometimes it just takes more time.

"It was a serious injury. The first time I felt the knee was getting better but you put so much load on to it that it became a setback.

"The pain in the knee then stopped so we had to figure out what was wrong and start building again. If you find a balance then it gets better and better."