Heaton hoping to make up for lost time
Clarets captain Tom Heaton admits he desperate to make up for lost time, after injury and the form of Nick Pope effectively wrote off his season.
While the 32-year-old is looking forward to locking horns with team mate Pope again once the World Cup has reached its conclusion, the England international accepts one of the two will be left disappointed, and is determined to make sure it is not him.
Heaton is on England’s standby list for Russia, having made only four starts at the start of the season before suffering a shoulder injury against Crystal Palace at Turf Moor in September.
And he’s ready to challenge Burnley’s Player of the Year for the number one spot.
The pair were reunited at St George’s Park last week, working alongside Jordan Pickford and Jack Butland, as the squad finalised their preparations for the tournament with friendlies against Nigeria at Wembley and Costa Rica at Elland Road.
With Pope named in the 23-man squad, Heaton said: “I’m delighted for him. We have a fantastic relationship, we really enjoy each others company and we enjoy competing against each other.
“He’s been absolutely outstanding this season and he deserves his slot. I’ve enjoyed working with him this week. That starts again in pre-season.
“I’m made up for him to be there and from my point of view I’m enjoying being part of it and looking forward to locking horns again next season.
“It’s no surprise [how well he’s done] for us inside the building, we saw it day in and day out. You just need the platform to do it sometimes and he got that when I got injured.”
He added: “He took his opportunity and hasn’t looked back. It’s a great story for him and a great journey he’s been on.
“The challenge is what it is, it speaks for itself. I don’t want to not play, he doesn’t want to not play.
“That’s the situation, you can’t come away from that. I’ve missed most of this year and from my point of view I don’t want to miss much more. I’d imagine he feels the same.”
Heaton, capped three times for his country, was invited in to the Three Lions setup by Gareth Southgate despite having only played four times domestically this term.
The former Manchester United stopper, who is closing in on 200 appearances for the Clarets, conceded that he thought his chance had gone on the international stage but he’s delighted to be back in the fold.
Last term’s recipient of the Player of the Year award may not get the chance to jump on the plane this summer but he acknowledges that his inclusion this time has provided him with a platform to build on heading towards the European Championships.
“It’s been really good, it’s nice to be involved in it,” he said. “It’s been a frustrating season personally, a brilliant one for the club but frustrating personally.
“To have this at the end of it is great, albeit only on standby, and I’m delighted to be here and enjoying being a part of it.
“To get that phone call from the manager - I was absolutely delighted and really pleased to be in and around it.
“It was brilliant to hear, it’s fantastic. I wasn’t really expecting it, I was attempting to make the squad by playing games but to be on standby after not playing any I was delighted and I’m pleased to be here.
“This week so far and hopefully next week has given me a foundation to build into next season as well, hopefully I can hit the ground running.”
Heaton added: “It’s a confidence boost. I’ve got a good relationship with all the staff here, I’ve enjoyed my time with England. I’ve said all along my ambition is to kick on and get more caps under by belt.
“It’s a platform to do that. I’ve got to be ready in case anything happens but if it doesn’t the focus will be on getting back involved after the World Cup.
“I don’t want to get ahead of myself, there’s a lot of water to go under the bridge yet, I’m here to do a job and get involved and be ready if needed.”