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Europe won’t be an easy ride, says Clarets skipper Heaton

England's goalkeepers (left-right) Jordan Pickford, Joe Hart, coach Martyn Margetson and Tom Heaton during the training session at St George's Park, Burton. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday November 10, 2016. See PA story SOCCER England. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to FA restrictions. Editorial use only. Commercial use only with prior written consent of the FA. No editing except cropping.
England's goalkeepers (left-right) Jordan Pickford, Joe Hart, coach Martyn Margetson and Tom Heaton during the training session at St George's Park, Burton. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday November 10, 2016. See PA story SOCCER England. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to FA restrictions. Editorial use only. Commercial use only with prior written consent of the FA. No editing except cropping.
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Burnley’s Tom Heaton says that England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford has opened his eyes to the challenge of the forthcoming Europa League campaign.

The Three Lions’ number one made six appearances for Everton in last season’s installment of the competition as the Toffees failed to progress from the group stages.

Former Clarets defender David Unsworth, who made 29 appearances for the club in the Championship during the 2007/08 season, steered Everton through its Group E obligations for a spell once Ronald Koeman had negotiated the qualifying process.

However, having found a route beyond Slovak side MFK Ružomberok in the third qualifying round, and Hajduk Split in the play-off phase, the Goodison outfit registered just one victory when partnered with Atalanta, Appollon Limassol and Lyon.

“I was talking to Pickers about Everton in the Europa League last year,” said the Burnley skipper.

“He said it was tough, they found it tough.

“No matter who you get I don’t think it will be an easy ride.

“It will be another good challenge for us to meet head on.

“Pickers said the challenge of it was difficult, they found it tough, even playing at home and playing away at teams you wouldn’t expect.

“To get in to the Europa League they’re going to be decent sides.

“It’s a challenge we’re looking forward to embracing.”

Sean Dyche’s side will learn who they’re up against tomorrow when the draw for the second qualifying round is made at the UEFA Headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland.

The ties will then be played on July 26th, in-between pre-season friendlies against Preston North End and Montpellier HSC, and August 2nd, just days before the Clarets entertain RCD Espanyol at Turf Moor.

“That comes around quickly,” said Heaton. “We’d be looking to build again and keep taking things forward.

“It’s been a feature over the years.

“Last season was a brilliant season and we’ll look to build in other ways, keep evolving and keep improving as a team.

“That would be another good marker for the club.

“It will be very big if we can do well but we know it will be a tough challenge.”