Clarets skipper – ‘There’s no extra pressure’

Tom Heaton
Tom Heaton

Clarets skipper Tom Heaton insists Burnley aren’t feeling any pressure despite their lead at the Championship being cut to a point.

A third-successive draw meant a 17th league game without defeat, but allowed Middlesbrough to close the gap to a solitary point, with Brighton a further point adrift.

But Heaton is purely focused on what is in front of Burnley, and, as ever, that is the next game, and Leeds United at Turf Moor on Saturday.

Asked if there is extra pressure after the midweek programme, Heaton said: “I hope not. I don’t think it should.

“There’ll be plenty of movement between now and the end of the season.

“If we end up going behind or we pull ahead, it doesn’t mean anything, you’ve just got to keep doing it.

“If we go four points clear there’ll still be five to play after Saturday.

“We try not to look too much into it. We focus on what we’re doing, get that right and hopefully that looks after it.

“I try and avoid looking at the league table.

“It’s irrelevant in some respects, all that matters is the end of the season and where everyone is. All we can do is look at what we’re doing.”

For Heaton, it is a fourth-successive season where he has been fighting to achieve something, whether that was to stave off the drop with Bristol City, or win promotion with Burnley, and then attempt to avoid relegation from the Premier League.

He is well-accustomed to pressure games, and he smiled: “I know which end I’d rather be at.

“I don’t necessarily look at those relegations negatively either, it’s an experience you go through and you realise what didn’t work at the time and what you can do differently next time.

“I try and come at it positively, another string to your bow. Going forward it does help. You have an understanding and a clearer picture when you go through those things again, so you certainly can use it.”

And he remains positive despite a frustrating evening on Tuesday against former club Cardiff City: “How can you look too doom and gloom at that? (17 unbeaten).

“It’s another good point, another clean sheet, so we take the positives from it.

“We just need to make sure we guard against getting any edginess, which is understandable at this stage of the season when it’s tight and other teams around us are doing things. We’ve got to focus on ourselves and not let that creep in. I don’t think there’s a problem with it but there was perhaps an element of it that we need to make sure doesn’t creep in.”

* Clarets striker Andre Gray has been named the SkyBet Championship’s top player of the year in FourFourTwo magazine’s annual poll.

The club’s £6m record signing is the top scorer in the division with 23 goals, 21 for Burnley and two for Brentford, this season – indeed, only Bristol Rovers’ Matty Taylor, with 24, has more in the top four divisions.

Meanwhile, Clarets boss Sean Dyche and Sam Vokes will find out this morning whether they have won the Championship manager and player of the momnth awards respectively.

Dyche, February’s winner, claimed more points than anyone else in March – one more than Neil Warnock at Rotherham – while Vokes scored four goals in four games.