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Heaton Back In Action

Captain makes welcome return as Chris Wood also steps up comeback

20 February 2018

Tom Heaton stepped up his comeback with a 90-minute training ground outing against Blackpool to edge nearer a return to first-team contention.

The Clarets’ goalkeeper conceded a penalty less than 60 seconds into his first taste of match action since being sidelined by a dislocated shoulder in September.

Heaton was unable to keep out Jay Spearing’s spot-kick and it took the Clarets until the last minute to equalise and secure a 1-1 draw thanks to a fine strike from a midfield trialist.

But the Burnley skipper will have benefitted from the return to semi-competitive football as he builds up his match sharpness.

Chris Wood also made a welcome return after missing nine games with a knee injury as the striker got through 70 minutes of the bounce game at the Barnfield Training Centre.

Dean Marney was another to make a successful return from a spell out with a knee problem of his own.

And there were also beneficial run-outs for Stephen Ward, Nahki Wells and GK Nkoudou to increase manager Sean Dyche’s options ahead of Saturday’s visit of Southampton.

Heaton was penalised for an early foul and possibly some over-eagerness after such a lengthy spell out as he failed to grab the ball as Blackpool worked their way into the penalty area.

But thereafter he dealt confidently with the few things he had to do, taking a couple of crosses, kicking the ball cleanly and talking his team-mates through the game.

Marney went closest to an equaliser before half-time with a volley the midfielder hooked against the inside of a post as he got through a full afternoon’s work.

The Clarets then dictated most of the second half and Marney and Wood both saw efforts blocked before Nkoudou – who was full of running and heavily involved – lifted a shot over the bar.

Blackpool – who included on-loan Burnley striker Dan Agyei – looked as though they would hold on but with almost the last kick of the game the Clarets finally got their goal with a curling effort from the edge of the box.

Burnley: Heaton, Clarke, O’Neill, Younger, Ward, McNeil, Trialist, Marney, Nkoudou, Wood (Bayode 70), Wells.

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