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Proud Lion Heaton Underlines Clarets' Strength

Tom Heaton believes international calls show Burnley progress as captain prepares for first England start

13 June 2017

Tom Heaton believes the booming number of international players at Turf Moor proves the Clarets are going places as he prepares to make his first England start.

Heaton will line up against France in Paris tonight as the Burnley goalkeeper and captain wins his third cap for his country.

Heaton’s promotion to Gareth Southgate’s starting line-up follows a full England debut for team-mate Michael Keane earlier in the season.

That bridged a 43-year gap since Martin Dobson became the last Burnley player to start a game for England.

And a proud Heaton is delighted to be following in their footsteps as the Clarets continue to grow on the international stage.

“It’s a good marker,” he told FATV.

“Since I signed four years ago, the club has moved on in leaps and bounds.

“We had a successful season in the Championship and then got relegated from the Premier League, but as a club we were moving things forward.

“There were a lot of things going on in the background with the infrastructure and planning, and I think that stood us in good stead to go and win the Championship and retain our Premier League status this season.

“We have a lot of internationals at the club now, which is a good sign.”

The calf injury sustained by Keane during the end-of-season run-in has kept him out of the current round of international games.

But last weekend Clarets’ striker Sam Vokes won his 50th cap for Wales and Burnley had four starters in the Republic of Ireland side which drew with Austria in a World Cup qualifier.

Heaton was on the bench as England drew 2-2 in Scotland but Southgate confirmed that the 31-year-old will replace Joe Hart and play the first half of Tuesday night’s friendly at the Stade de France.

Heaton’s promotion after winning two previous caps as a substitute follows an ‘outstanding season’ – according to England boss Southgate – and comes just seven years after he was loaned out by Manchester United to League Two side Rochdale.

“I am a big believer in everyone takes their own journey,” added Heaton, who became Sean Dyche’s first signing as a Burnley manager when he arrived on a free transfer from Bristol City in May, 2013.

“That certainly feels true for me. I am a little bit older coming into the set-up but I try not to let that hold me back.

“I have played across all four divisions but it never left me, that hunger and ambition to play for England.

Tom Heaton Man Utd

 

“It may have felt a long way off for other people at certain times, playing down in League Two, but I never lost that belief.

“It’s a different sort of journey from a lot of other lads but I am quite proud of that journey.

“I like to think it stands me in good stead in terms of experience and perhaps the mental side of it.

“When you set out in a career in football, playing for England encapsulates what you visualise and I am certainly no different from that.

“Belting out the national anthem with that shirt on will be a fantastic moment. It’s a really proud moment.

“It (the goalkeeping department) is strong at the moment and I’m delighted to have got the nod. I’m really excited and looking forward to the game.”


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