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Heaton Burns Bright As Clarets Hit Back

Passion still runs high for skipper as comeback helps secure vital win

30 December 2018

Tom Heaton showed the ‘fire is still burning’ as he helped fan the flames of a Clarets’ recovery.

The Burnley club captain played his first Premier League game since 2017 as manager Sean Dyche again shuffled his pack to try and spark an upturn in fortunes.

And the move paid off with a superb 2-0 win over West Ham which brought a first senior goal for teenager Dwight McNeil and a welcome clean sheet with Heaton back in goal.

“This is what I’ve been chasing. It’s been a long road and a strange road at times,” said Heaton after injuries saw him lose his place initially to Nick Pope and then, this season, to Joe Hart.

“I think I’ve learned a lot, personally, about myself, different situations, what’s important.

“And the fire is still burning, probably stronger than ever.

“It can be difficult at times. I’ve not hidden the fact I was disappointed not to start the season.

“That said, Joe has come in and him and I have a fantastic relationship.

“We have struggled for results and conceded a lot of goals but for me, he’s probably player of the season so far.

“It’s just the nature of the beast and something the manager has chosen to do and we roll forward with that.

“On a personal note it was brilliant to be back in the team and putting on that shirt again.

“I thought the lads were absolutely outstanding. It’s a great win in difficult circumstances because we haven’t been great recently.

“I’m absolutely delighted to be part of that and looking forward to the next one already.”

The Clarets ended a run of three successive defeats and bounced back from their 5-1 Boxing Day beating by Everton to produce their best performance of the season.

Chris Wood put Dyche’s side ahead with his fifth goal in four games against the Hammers before McNeil, 19, capped an outstanding second Premiership start with the second goal before half-time.

There were numerous chances to add to the score as West Ham’s winning run was ended.

But the lead was never seriously threatened until the last minute when Heaton made a stunning save to deny Andy Carroll.

And with only a second win in 13 games lifting the Clarets level on points with 17th-placed Southampton, Heaton is looking to back it up at bottom club Huddersfield Town on Wednesday night in a bid to get out of the bottom three.

“It was great to be on there doing that and more of the same is required,” he added.

“It’s only a starting point. It’s a good starting point.

“There’s another big game against Huddersfield coming up.

“I think as players we probably felt we needed to show that. We’ve shown it in bits over the last few weeks at times.

“But I think today was probably a step up and I think there’s more to come.”

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