Clarets skipper '˜better for England experience'
Clarets skipper Tom Heaton admits his involvement with England has made him a better goalkeeper.
And he hopes he can do enough in the remaining five games with his club, to earn a place in Roy Hodgson’s squad for the European Championships this summer in France.
Hodgson must name his 23-strong pool at least 10 days before the first game of the tournament on June 10th, with two friendlies to come before the deadline, against Turkey at the Etihad Stadium on May 22nd, and Australia at the Stadium of Light on May 27th.
There then follows a Wembley send-off against Portugal on June 2nd.
Heaton’s hopes of making the cut have improved after Jack Butland suffered a fractured ankle in the 3-2 win over Germany in Berlin last month, and he said: “I was gutted for Jack, he’s a top lad and a top goalkeeper.
“Whether that opens a door for me or not, we’ll have to wait and see.
“I try not to look too far ahead.
“I focus on playing week in week out and putting in some good performances and the rest is up to the manager.
“All the lads I’ve come across in the squad have been fantastic.
“It’s a good competitive environment and a lot of support, it’s been excellent.”
Heaton earned his first call-up for the games against the Republic of Ireland and Slovenia last June – Burnley’s first senior England squad member since Martin Dobson in 1974.
He was named in the following three squads, and a get-together at St George’s Park in February, but was left out for the games with Germany and Holland, before an injury to Joe Hart saw him recalled.
And, asked whether he’s improved as a result of working with the best in the country, he admitted: “I’d like to think so.
“The natural progression of being around the top players in the country, in that environment, I think it does lift more out of you and I’ve tried to use that and keep getting better all the time.
“It’s certainly a factor.”
One man at Turf Moor knows all about playing for England in major tournaments – keeper Paul Robinson.
In February, Robinson signed a deal to the end of the season at Turf Moor, with vast experience gleaned from a career in the Premier League with Leeds United, Spurs and Blackburn Rovers, winning 41 caps for his country.
He was England’s number one as they reached the quarter-finals in Germany in 2006, and Heaton revealed he has been a big help to him since arriving: “He has been.
“He’s been excellent in terms of adding that experience.
“He’s been there and done everything really.
“I’ve got on fantastically well with him so far, he’s been a very good addition to the squad around the dressing room.
“He’s another calming influence and he’s very good for me personally to draw upon, with what he’s been through and different ideas and ways he did it.
“It just gives you another angle.”