Reporter: Matthew Chambers
Date online: 20 September 2013
RETURNING defender James Tarkowski admits he is in the form of his life — and that despite speculation over his future, he remains fully committed to Athletic.
The big centre-back (20) dominated proceedings at Preston, scoring with a powerful header and earning the man-of-the-match award in a game broadcast live by Sky Sports and watched by a host of top-level personnel including Manchester United manager David Moyes.
Having missed out on the chance to back up that effort five days later at Rotherham through injury, he is back in the fray for the visit of Crewe to Boundary Park tomorrow.
The Main Stand is likely to be abuzz with scouts again — but the man from New Moston has his mind only on the immediate task: helping Athletic to pick up a vital victory to improve a run of one win in six league matches.
“I am playing the best I have ever played,” said Tarkowski. “You just want to keep on playing at times like this, so it was disappointing to miss out at Rotherham and not be able to help the lads.
“If you are playing on TV, obviously you are being watched by a much bigger audience. But you want to play well in every game — that is just an added bonus.
“You do hear about the speculation. But I just try to leave that to my agent. If anything like that comes up, it will come up. I am not concentrating on it. I am at Oldham and I am happy here, so there is no need to even think about it.”
Tarkowski has already netted twice this season but says he feels he has wasted chances to add to that tally.
He also revealed that his manager Lee Johnson has set him a goal to be more effective in the opposition box - just as he was at Stevenage in volleying home powerfully and at Deepdale arriving with power at the near post to nod a late goal.
“The gaffer told me at the start of the season that he wants at least six goals out of me,” added Tarkowski, who only netted twice in all of last season.
“To be fair, I should have had more so far. I have had chances where I have been disappointed I haven’t put it away. Two is not a bad start in the first few games and six is the bare minimum now.”
Despite Athletic not having kept a clean sheet this season, Tarkowski feels his partnership with fellow ball-playing centre-back Jonathan Grounds has worked well.
“We have been pretty solid at the back. We are performing well but not getting the first goal, which isn’t helping. We are conceding unfortunate goals, not getting given penalties and having penalties awarded against us which seem harsh. Hopefully, we can get a win tomorrow and kick on.
James Wesolowski is set to start in place of suspended David Mellor and Johnson may shuffle the pack in attacking positions with James Dayton also fit again.
Have Your Say