Burnley skipper Tom Heaton determined to hold on to his jersey
Tom Heaton will focus on himself and nobody else as he looks to maintain his position as Burnley’s first choice goalkeeper next term.
The Clarets captain, who made his 200th appearance for the club on the final day of the season against Arsenal, will face stiff competition from Nick Pope, who signed a new long-term deal at Turf Moor on Friday.
Former Three Lions number one Joe Hart also has another year left to run on his contract, though the 32-year-old’s future remains uncertain.
And with Adam Legzdins also working in that union with coach Billy Mercer at the Barnfield Training Centre, Heaton, in Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the UEFA Nations League Finals next week, said: “It has been an interesting dynamic.
“We have four senior goalkeepers all 27 and over, so it has been a full compliment.
“It is a first for me but that was someone else’s decision.
“For me it has always been a view of what I am doing and making sure that I am getting my things right.
“If you are not playing then I always have the view that you are not doing enough.
“You want to give the manager a real problem in selection.”
Heaton, who kept four clean sheets after returning to the starting line-up in late December, added: “I don’t look at it as competing with individuals, for me it is all about competing with myself.
“That is my personal view and that won’t change, it has always been the case and this year was no different.
“There has been no issues with the bond between us, we have a fantastic relationship between us.
“It has been great and we all enjoy working with each other and we all understand the job.
“I can tell you now that I certainly want to play and I imagine everyone else wants to play.
“It is difficult, we know that but there is no issues with each other and it is just the nature of the beast.”
Heaton led his team-mates out for the first time in nearly 15 months in the Premier League when West Ham were beaten 2-0.
The former Manchester United stopper endured that prolonged spell on the sidelines having suffered a dislocated shoulder against Crystal Palace, before seeing Pope impress – with a subsequent calf niggle and the arrival of Hart further complicating matters.
But he will always remember and appreciate the ovation he received against the Hammers: “The biggest highlight for me was walking out of the tunnel at the West Ham home game. The reception I got from the crowd was absolutely incredible and that will stay with me for a long time. I missed it,
“I didn’t hide the fact that I was frustrated and didn’t enjoy not being involved, but that’s football. I put the work in and thankfully the opportunity came.”