Tom Heaton determined to remain as first-choice Burnley goalkeeper

Burnley captain Tom Heaton is determined not to let complacency seep in as he looks to establish himself as the club’s number one goalkeeper.

Heaton acted as Joe Hart’s understudy for the first half of the season but his recent return between the posts has dovetailed with Burnley winning their last three Premier League fixtures.

Nick Pope is primed to come back into the first-team picture soon which will leave manager Sean Dyche with a healthy amount of options, with Anders Lindegaard and Adam Legzdins also at the club.

Being a regular on the substitutes’ bench led to Heaton considering his options at the back end of last year but he is now fully focused on retaining his place on a weekly basis.

“Obviously, it was frustrating not playing. On a personal note I can’t hide that. The fire was burning, really. It was burning strong,” Heaton said.

“You realise what you miss when you’re not playing, so as soon as I got the opportunity, I’ve enjoyed every second of it. I’ve got to say, it’s brilliant to be back out there. Long may it continue.

“But I’m also conscious of making sure I don’t get ahead of myself, that I don’t start thinking too long-term. It’s important that I put the work in, day-to-day, so that’s what I’m trying to do at the minute.

“There’s a competitive edge. We have a great relationship, the three of us, and Anders Lindegaard and Adam Legzdins as well.

“There’s a strong goalkeeping department, with the five senior goalkeepers. It bodes really well. There’s a competitive edge. It brings the best out of everyone.”

Pope’s imminent availability means Dyche faces a tricky balancing act to keep three England-capped shot-stoppers satisfied.

But Heaton insists there is a healthy respect between himself, Hart and Pope.

“I think people make more of it than we do. The situation is what it is,” he added.

“The manager picks the team. That’s the nature of football, we deal with that, that’s just how it is.

“There’s no animosity, there’s no difficult situation. We all know the nature of the beast and we deal with it.”

Heaton is set to retain his place in goal for the trip to Watford this weekend as Burnley look for a fifth successive win in all competitions.

The Clarets have moved out of the bottom three courtesy of their upturn in fortunes in the last few weeks, but Heaton was adamant no-one at the club was taking their form for granted.

He said: “We’ve had some difficult moments, no two ways about it. We’re in a difficult position.

“No-one’s getting carried away. Three wins in the Premier League is a very good achievement, but we need to make sure we keep it moving going forward.”

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Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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