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Heaton Gets First England Start

Gareth Southgate confirms Burnley captain will start friendly against France

12 June 2017

Tom Heaton will win his third England cap when he starts for the first time against France in Paris on Tuesday night.

National-team coach Gareth Southgate confirmed that the Clarets’ goalkeeper and captain will play the first half of the friendly at the Stade De France, with Stoke City’s Jack Butland set to figure after the break.

Heaton will replace Joe Hart following last Saturday’s 2-2 World Cup qualifying draw against Scotland as Southgate weighs up his goalkeeping options. Southampton’s Fraser Forster is the one to miss out.

Heaton, 31, has previously made two England appearances from the bench in friendlies against Australia and Spain.

And the Burnley number-one has now been rewarded with a first start against a France side which lost its first game in World Cup qualifying for Russia 2018 when they were beaten 2-1 by Sweden last Friday night.

Southgate said: “Tom’s had an outstanding season.

"You need to give players the opportunity. In the past, one or two keepers have given up international football because they've not had that chance so I'm conscious of keeping players involved.

"It is a difficult call on Fraser, who is also a very good keeper.

"With those four and (Sunderland's) Jordan Pickford, plus a couple of lads coming up potentially from the Championship next year, we are very healthy."

Kevin Long

Elsewhere on World Cup qualifying duty over the weekend, the Clarets again had four starters for the Republic of Ireland as they drew 1-1 with Austria in Dublin.

Defender Kevin Long (above) made his competitive debut alongside Turf Moor team-mates Stephen Ward, Robbie Brady and Jeff Hendrick as Martin O’Neill’s side maintained their unbeaten record in Group D.

And after starting Burnley’s final three games of the Premier League season, Long also now has three full caps to his name.

“It is every kid’s dream to play for their country and I am absolutely over the moon to do so three times in such a short space of time,” he said.

“We have got a few weeks off now so I will recharge the batteries.

“I will go back to Burnley pre-season and I will try to hit the ground running and see where it takes me.” 

Robbie Brady

Jon Walters scored a late equaliser for the Republic following a ball over the top from Brady (above) before an effort from former Clarets’ loanee Shane Duffy was ruled out for a foul as Ireland chased the win that would have taken them above Serbia at the top of the table.

“In the second half we regrouped and I thought we were by far the better side and created enough to win the game,” said Brady.

“We pushed them hard and didn’t stop till the end.

“Jonny Walters was excellent up there. He made a mountain out of a molehill with my ball and made it his own.

"We’re still sitting pretty enough in the table and we’re not finished yet. We'll be raring to go now come September.”

Ireland next face a double-header away to Georgia and at home to Serbia, before finishing their qualifying campaign with back-to-back games in Moldova and at home to Wales in October.

Wales remain third in the group – four points behind the co-leaders – after drawing 1-1 in Serbia.

Sam Voked 50th cap

Burnley striker Sam Vokes (above) won his 50th cap and was fouled for the penalty which Aaron Ramsey converted to give Wales the lead.

However, Newcastle United striker Aleksandar Mitrovic equalised, leaving Wales potentially needing maximum points from their final four games to keep alive their hopes of potential qualification for a place in the 2018 finals in Russia.

Clarets’ wideman Johann Berg Gudmundsson played the full 90 minutes as Iceland secured a crucial 1-0 win over Group I leaders Croatia in Reykjavic.

A last-minute goal from Bristol City defender Hordur Magnbusson lifted Iceland level on points with Croatia and two points clear of Turkey and Ukraine.

In European qualifying, the top teams from each of the nine groups qualify automatically for a place in the finals, while the best eight runners-up then play off.

"It is a difficult call on Fraser, who is also a very good keeper.

"With those four and [Sunderland's] Jordan Pickford, plus a couple of lads coming up potentially from the Championship next year, we are very healthy."

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