Clarets skipper ready and able

England's caretaker manager Gareth Southgate (right) with Tom Heaton during a training session at St George's Park, Burton. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday November 8, 2016. See PA story SOCCER England. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to FA restrictions. Editorial use only. Commercial use only with prior written consent of the FA. No editing except cropping.
England's caretaker manager Gareth Southgate (right) with Tom Heaton during a training session at St George's Park, Burton. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday November 8, 2016. See PA story SOCCER England. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to FA restrictions. Editorial use only. Commercial use only with prior written consent of the FA. No editing except cropping.

Clarets skipper Tom Heaton admits that he’d be ready to step into the breach should Gareth Southgate hand him a first England start tomorrow night.

The 30-year-old goalkeeper, who earned his first cap for his country with a cameo appearance against Australia in the summer, was selected in the 25-man squad for the World Cup qualifying Group F clash with Scotland, as well as Tuesday’s friendly with Spain, both to be played at Wembley.

Heaton is in the form of his life, making save of the season contenders against Southampton and Manchester United, and currently tops the charts for most stops made in the Premier League with 60.

Meanwhile, Joe Hart’s performances since switching to Serie A with Torino have been interspersed with errors, notably against Atalanta, Inter Milan and Cagliari.

Asked about his credentials to get the nod from Three Lions boss Southgate, Heaton said: “I hope so. That would be great. To do that you’ve got to find consistency when playing your club football.

“That’s what I’ve got to do - I’ve got to stay focused on trying to perform and whatever comes after that will be fantastic. It’s certainly the ambition, so hopefully that will come.

“I’d very much enjoy it. I try to enjoy every game and I feel like I play my best football when I’ve got a smile on my face and enjoy it. I try to embrace the challenge.

“I have no real expectation with the international set up at the minute. There’s been quite a lot of talk about it over the last few days but it’s obviously a big ambition of mine to play more games for England, and that’s what I’m trying to achieve.

“If it came about then I’d certainly have a smile on my face, but you can only concentrate on week in and week out, that sort of thing is out of my hands. All I want to do is keep performing as best I can and try and get better all the time.”