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Tom Ready and Raring To Go

Fit-again club captain Tom Heaton is poised to compete for a place

26 March 2018

Tom Heaton is ready to fight for his place and compete with Nick Pope for the goalkeeper’s jersey at Turf Moor.

Heaton is fully recovered from the dislocated shoulder he sustained last September and the surgery that followed.

Pope has since filled the void superbly, keeping 11 clean sheets in the Premier League to help the Clarets up to seventh place and earn himself a place in the England squad for the first time.

The 25-year-old is likely to be on the bench when England face Italy in a friendly at Wembley on Tuesday night.

But Heaton – a predecessor in an England shirt – is still desperate to play an active role in the remainder of the Clarets’ campaign and on Monday completed his second full 90 minutes in the Professional Development League to underline his well-being.

“It’s been hard and a different sort of challenge,” said Heaton, who had missed just three league games in four seasons with the Clarets ahead of the current campaign and been a key figure in their success under Sean Dyche.

“Until you’ve been through it you don’t really realise to be honest. It’s difficult at times.

“I have been desperate to get back and back fit and I want to play some games this season.

“That’s been the drive and that’s been the motivator.

“The physios and the sports science have been brilliant and behind the scenes they’ve been top drawer. I’m very grateful for that and pleased to be back.

“It’s been an outstanding season. The lads have been superb. The performances have been top draw, the results have been great and the position in the league superb.

“So, I’m desperate to get back and make an impact. That’s certainly my ambition.

“Popey has been fantastic, but that’s part and parcel of club football. You get amongst it and you compete for shirts. I’m just delighted to be back in that position to do that.”

Heaton played in two behind-closed doors games to step his up his match sharpness before the current international break.

And two league games in eight days for Burnley's under-23s further topped up those levels as the 31-year-old followed up a 1-0 win at Charlton by helping Michael Duff’s side to a 3-1 victory over Queens Park Rangers at Turf Moor.

Boss Sean Dyche and goalkeeping coach Billy Mercer watched on Monday

“I’m ready to go really. It’s my fourth 90 minutes. Each one is a step done and I felt really good today,” Heaton – who guided a teenage back four through a comprehensive victory – told Clarets Player HD.

“I thought the boys played really well. We came off the game in the last 10-15 minutes, which is probably part of the learning for the young lads.

“But it was a good game, a very good performance and I’m pleased to get that fourth one under my belt.

“On the back of an injury you’re desperate to get back playing. It’s been a few long, hard months in the gym and in the physio room, so I’m delighted to be back out on the grass and I think that sort of ticks the box in playing games now.

“It feels good and I’m pleased to be playing. I’ll probably speak to the manager and to the physios, but in terms of where I feel, I feel sharp and ready to go and the arm feels superb.”

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