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Heaton Up For Anfield Challenge

Clarets captain revelling in fight to lead Burnley to Premier League safety

10 March 2019

Tom Heaton is ready to try and hold up Liverpool’s title push as the Clarets plan to put on their Sunday best.

Liverpool go into the mid-day kick-off at Anfield trailing Premier League leaders Manchester City by four points and knowing they must win to stay on the coat tails of the champions.

But Clarets captain Heaton insists that will not affect Burnley’s approach to a fixture that is just as important to Sean Dyche’s men.

“I don’t, and we don’t, go into any game with the mentality of a free hit,” said Heaton.

“Yes, Liverpool are a top side, they are fighting for the title at the top end of the table, all the stats back that up – offensively, defensively and they have only been beaten once this season.

“It’s all irrelevant to us, to be honest, it’s 11 men versus 11 men and we are looking forward to embracing that challenge at Anfield.

“We know it’s a tough place to go, we know the atmosphere is going to be good and they are an excellent side.

“But we know what we are about, and we are looking forward to meeting that head-on and implementing our game plan to go and look to get a result.”

While City’s win over Watford on Saturday has piled the pressure on Liverpool, results didn’t go Burnley’s way either.

Southampton’s win over Tottenham lifted them above the Clarets, while Cardiff’s home victory against West Ham means there is just a two-point gap between Burnley and the bottom three.

But Heaton is relishing the battle to pull clear of danger with just four points separating five clubs hovering above the drop zone.

“It’s tight in that part of the league,” added the England international.

“It’s Premier League football. It’s difficult at times and there’s a lot of quality opposition.

“It’s where we want to be and it’s where we want to be challenging.

“I think it’s tight enough where you put a few wins together and you fly up the table and the same the other way around.

“You’d rather be in our position than further down the table, but, of course, you’d rather be further up it.

“We’re not getting ahead of ourselves. It’s each game at a time. We know it’s a tough test at Liverpool but one we’re looking forward to.”

The Clarets are aiming to avoid a third successive defeat by taking something from the trip to Merseyside, where they drew 1-1 last season.

But before losing back-to-back games to Newcastle and Crystal Palace, Burnley had been unbeaten in eight league matches to transform their fortunes.

Heaton played a huge part in that priceless run after reclaiming his place in goal at the end of December and immediately picking up where he left off before his injury-enforced absence.

And the in-form Clarets’ keeper – eyeing a possible England return when the squad for the start of the Euro 2020 qualifiers is named next Wednesday – is determined to make the most of every step of the comeback trail.

“I’ve been delighted,” he said. “I felt a real appetite to get back out there. I missed it, probably more than I thought it would, and I’ve always loves football and playing every week.

“I miss that energy when you wake up and you’ve got a game on the day, so to get the opportunity again I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every second.

“I’m thoroughly enjoying it. There are never any guarantees in football, I’m fully aware of that, and the only guarantee I can give at the minute is that I’m definitely going to enjoy it, no matter what’s happening.”

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