Ben Gibson is hoping his injury nightmare is behind him as he looks to repay the faith shown in him by Burnley.
Sean Dyche made Gibson the club’s record signing in the summer when he paid £15million to bring him to Turf Moor from Middlesbrough, but after two hernia operations, the defender has still only made four appearances for the Clarets.
“When you move you’re desperate to make your mark but unfortunately injury has led to me not being able to do that,” Gibson said. “It’s part and parcel of the game. I’ve been lucky with injuries in the past but there’s nothing you can do except get fit as quickly as you can.
“That’s what I’ve done and now I’m fit and ready to make my mark. The team has had some really good performances and as a squad we want to keep building.
“For me, I need to make sure I’m as fit as I can be so when I’m given that opportunity I can take it and have a long career for the club.”
Gibson is expected to be given a chance to make an impression in Saturday’s FA Cup fourth round trip to Manchester City.
The 26-year-old has fond memories of the Etihad Stadium from his time with Middlesbrough – where he came through the ranks having effectively been born into it as the nephew of chairman Steve Gibson.
Ben’s first visit came when he was just 12, attending as a fan when Boro drew 1-1 with City as Robbie Fowler missed a late penalty, allowing Boro to pip Stuart Pearce’s side to a place in Europe.
“It was me, my little brother, mum and dad all with Boro shirts on,” he said. “They got a penalty in the last minute and everybody was saying, ‘Robbie Fowler doesn’t miss penalties’.
“But Mark Schwarzer got down to his left and saved it. As a kid it was one of my best memories of supporting Middlesbrough.”
That match was in 2005. Ten years later, Gibson was part of the the Boro team that upset City with a 2-0 win in Manchester at this stage of the FA Cup, with second-half goals from Patrick Bamford and Kike.
“It was unbelievable,” Gibson said. “To go there as a Championship team you’re massive underdogs and everybody writes you off, but you go in there full of belief and expecting to put in a good performance.
“We got battered. It was the Alamo for 85 minutes but if you stay in the game as the clock ticks on, you know they don’t want a replay and it gets a bit more desperate, so you never know what might happen.”
Gibson knows it could be the Alamo all over again on Saturday – not least as City beat Burnley 5-0 in the league in October – but said he and his fellow defenders were looking forward to the challenge of facing City’s superstars.
“As a defender you sort of relish it in a weird way,” he said. “You don’t relish it at 3-0 down when they’re still coming at you, but at 0-0 you’re enjoying it, you’re loving it.
“That’s what we’re there for, to defend and you enjoy doing it.”