A defiant Jon Flanagan has spoken of his intention to return to Liverpool during the summer and prove he is worthy of a place in Jürgen Klopp’s squad.
The 24-year-old full-back is currently on a season-long loan at Premier League side Burnley and although he hasn’t featured in their first XI as much as he would have liked, the Scouser insists he feels back to his full fitness.
Speaking with the Liverpool Echo, Flanagan said: “I’ve got a job to do for Burnley until the end of the season but after that I want to go back and prove what I’m all about at Liverpool.
“One of my greatest strengths is my self-belief. What I’ve done in the past is change people’s opinions of me and force my way into a very good Liverpool team.
“I’ve shown that I can perform at the highest level. I am more than confident of doing the same again. I still feel like I’ve got a lot to offer. I am really excited and looking forward to the challenge.”
Flanagan, who has made nine appearances for the Clarets so far this term isn’t eligible for Sunday’s clash against his parent club.
Despite not featuring regularly, the defender admits he will give it everything he can to try and claim a regular place in Sean Dyche’s side before the end of the 2016-17 season.
He added: “Obviously, I would have liked to have played more but that’s football.
“I got in the team around Christmas and felt things were going well but unfortunately I got a knock in training which kept me out for a week or so. It gave someone else a chance which they took.
“Sean Dyche is a loyal manager and with the team doing well it’s been quite settled. I’ve had to be patient.
“From that point of view, it hasn’t gone quite to plan for me but I do feel that over the course of the season I’ve really got my fitness back.
“Barring that minor knock I got just before Christmas, I’ve not missed a training session all season and I’m feeling fitter and stronger than I have done for years.
“Hopefully I can force my way into the team and get a run in the side between now and the end of the season before going back to Liverpool. I’m working hard and doing everything I can to make that happen.”
During his temporary spell away from Anfield Flanagan has kept in close contact with Liverpool’s loan pathways and football partnerships manager Julian Ward.
He said: “I’m always in touch with Julian, who gives the feedback to Jürgen.
“He knows I want to go back fighting fit and prove myself. I’ve got a great starting point in order to do that with how good I feel physically.
“There’s a lot of competition but that was the case before when I was playing regularly for Liverpool. I want to get back to that.
“I still believe I’ve got a future at Liverpool. I’m not thinking about moving on. You have to be confident in your own ability and I’m ready for the fight.”
Flanagan will be in the stands watching on as an interested spectator and he admits it will be a strange afternoon for him as the Reds hope to build on last weekend's 3-1 win over Arsenal..
“It’s a difficult one for me,” he said. “I want Burnley to stay in the Premier League but I’ve been a Liverpool fan all my life and they’re still my club.
“After what happened at Leicester, Liverpool got their form back against Arsenal last weekend. It was a really dominant performance. The front three really clicked and Adam Lallana had a great game just behind them. When Liverpool perform like that going forward they are difficult to stop.
“They had a great start to the season and they were right up there in terms of the title race. But that blip in January and February cost them. Now it’s about getting in the top four which would still be a good achievement. It’s tight between second and sixth but I fancy Liverpool to finish in that top four.
“Burnley have shocked a lot of people with where we are in the table. People expected us to be in a real battle to stay up but Sean Dyche has done a great job. He’s getting the best out of the players.
“It’s been a great season up until now but there’s still work to be done to ensure we stay up. We want to get beyond that 40-point mark. The two lads up front, Andre Gray and Ashley Barnes, have done great for us. They will pose a danger on Sunday.”
The Clarets have picked up just two points on their travels in the top-flight this season having taken 29 of their 31 points on home turf, but despite that record Flanagan insists Burnley should not be underestimated on Sunday.
“It’s a strange one to explain,” he added.
“The home form has been brilliant. The fans create a great atmosphere and visiting teams have found Turf Moor a really tough place to go to.
“We’ve been unlucky in a lot of away games - we’ve missed out by narrow margins. Last weekend at Swansea was a good example of that when we conceded a late winner. It’s only a matter of time before we get an away win because the performance levels are there.
“Liverpool had all the ball when they lost at Turf Moor but weren’t able to create many clear cut chances. Burnley were clinical on the counter-attack and very well organised defensively.
“It will be tight on Sunday. It’s got the makings of an exciting game."