Clarets striker backs skipper after England disappointment

Tom Heaton
Tom Heaton

Clarets striker Andre Gray has hailed captain Tom Heaton as the best keeper in the Championship.

Heaton was yesterday left out of the England squad for the returning Fraser Forster, despite featuring in the last four squads, and last month's get together at St George's Park.

But Gray backed him to shrug off the disappointment: “He’s the best keeper in the Championship, hands down. He’s won more games than I’ve probably won and Vokesy’s probably won this season without anyone realising.

“His head’s screwed and he knows better to not let this affect him.

“I”m sure he kind of new a bit, maybe. With Fraser Forster coming back he’s probably had it in the back of his head a little bit so it’s easier to get over. As long as it’s not too much of a shock for him.

“But he’s very strong headed.

“The boys have given him a bit of banter about it but it’s all laughs and jokes at the end of the day. He knows he’s good enough, Roy Hodgson knows he’s good enough, but it’s how it is sometimes.

“It’s an opinion at the end of the day and there’s only one that counts when it comes to the England team and that’s the main man.

“But he’s been in the England squad at Championship level and I don’t know many people who have done that."

And boss Sean Dyche, who made Heaton his first permanent signing at Burnley, insists he won't be affected: “He’s fine. He doesn’t take anything for granted and he’s totally respectful of the good keepers that are out there.

“He’ll be disappointed but Tom is a realist and he gets the market he’s in and there are some very good keepers.

“He’s done great again, and to be fair to stay in and around the group for so long outside of the top division has been a marker in itself, because that’s not easy to do, so all credit to him.

“To be at the stage of career he is and be in the England set-up is fantastic in itself. So I don’t think he’d look at the negatives, I think he’d look at the positives of the last period of his career and more, and what he’s still delivering at the moment."