No regrets about move to Burnley, says Wells
Nahki Wells is intent on proving himself in the Premier League and insists he will ignore transfer speculation linking him with a summer move away from Burnley.
Wells made just ten substitute appearances for Burnley last season after signing from Huddersfield Town for £5 million, finding himself behind Ashley Barnes, Chris Wood and Sam Vokes in the striking pecking order.
Although Wells has no regrets about joining the Lancashire outfit, he admits that last season was the most frustrating of his professional career.
“I probably could have stayed and featured far more at Huddersfield,” Wells told The Royal Gazette. “But I couldn't turn down the opportunity of moving to a more established Premier League club.
“There was uncertainty at Huddersfield; I had a year left on my contract and there was also a lot of political stuff going on behind the scenes that people don't know about.
“I've no regrets at all. It's easy to have regrets and it was nice to see Huddersfield stay up. It would have been a bit easier in hindsight being at Huddersfield and I could have had a far better season.
“Looking back I wouldn't change my decision; I'm just disappointed with how it panned out. I just look at this as being one of the bad years of my career, although there were still a lot of positives. I've been playing in front of 70 and 80,000 every other week. It's a great experience.”
Rather than dwell on last season's disappointments, Wells has adopted a positive mindset as he looks to “right the wrongs” and force his way into manager Sean Dyche's first-team plans.
“If you'd have asked me a few months ago whether I'd be in this mindset and so excited about the new season I'd have said no,” Wells said. “I'd have wanted change.
“But there's something inside of me saying this is going to work out. I'm just excited to go back on July 2, hit the ground running and right the wrongs of last season.
“I've sat down with the management and they're pleased with me. They reiterated for me not to overthink things and that circumstances led to the season panning out the way it did.
“I don't have any doubts about my capabilities at this level. It's just a case of proving I deserve some opportunities. The pre-season is a fresh start for me and I like to think the manager sees it that way as well.”
Having earned a reputation as a proven Championship goalscorer at Huddersfield, scoring 49 goals in 3½ seasons, Wells will likely attract plenty of interest from second-tier clubs.
He insists, however, he has not even contemplated abandoning his Premier League dream, having worked so hard to reach the pinnacle of the English game.
“I'll not let the distractions of interest from other clubs sway my head because I didn't get to this level only to leave without giving it a good go,” Wells said.
“This is the dream, this is what I've worked so hard for, even if there's going to be some sacrifices and disappointments along the way.
“I'm not going to leave until I've given it everything or when I don't feel capable of doing it. At this stage I don't have those doubts.”
The 28-year-old said he and his agent, David Thelfell, have discussed his future and both agreed that Turf Moor is the best place for him to be at the moment.
“My agent is not a big believer in jumping the gun,” Wells said. “He knows what my goals and ambitions are, and it's not just about money because that already came.
“My goals now are to become an established Premier League player and to score goals at this level.
“He's blocking out as much of the distractions as he can until it's necessary because let's not distract from the fact I can't have another year without any football.”
With Burnley enjoying their most successful Premier League campaign after finishing seventh, Wells could have few complaints about his limited opportunities.
European football now beckons and with extra fixtures in their schedule Wells expects more minutes to show his worth.
“I expected to be given more of a chance to prove myself,” he said. “To play five or ten minutes here and there is never going to equate to many opportunities.
“It's hard to make a fair assessment. I only really had a fair shot against Huddersfield [as an 81st minute substitute] when I had my only real scoring chance.
“It was only an inch away and had that gone in I would have tasted my first Premier League goal and might have gone on to get more minutes in the next game.
“Maybe we'd be talking about a great season in which I scored ten goals. It just didn't fall that way.”
He added: “The Europa League's going to create a hectic schedule. We're going to need a bigger squad and I think more players will get opportunities.
“Hopefully I can move from fourth choice to third or second choice. When I play I score goals and that's never going to change as long as I'm getting minutes.”
Wells missed the start of last season because of injury and is looking forward to getting a full pre-season under his belt for the first time in two years.
“Last season I had to get a screw removed from my ankle and it took away my whole pre-season,” he said. “I was chasing shadows trying to catch the group up and coming into a side that was doing really well was difficult. By the time I came into the frame I was fourth choice and the other strikers all had goals under their belt and were all doing well.
“It was a just case of fluctuation between them and in hindsight I never expected it to be this difficult. I expected to be given more of a chance to go and prove myself.
“I'm healthy now and my ankle is the best it's felt since before I got injured as a teenager. I've had some injection therapy and I think it's solved all problems.”