Keeper Heaton excited about a huge year – on and off the pitch

Safe hands: Tom Heaton kept 20 clean sheets for the Clarets in his first season with the club
Safe hands: Tom Heaton kept 20 clean sheets for the Clarets in his first season with the club
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Clarets keeper Tom Heaton feels Burnley can take the momentum from this season into the Premier League.

Heaton, who kept 20 of Burnley’s 21 clean sheets over the season, is looking for the squad to adopt the same mentality that saw them promoted with a club record 93 points.

The Clarets suffered only five league defeats, and the 28-year-old believes the team will go into the top tier with a real spring in their step: “Definitely so. I think if we approach it in the same manner and with the same sort of philosophy we’ve approached this year I think we can.

“I don’t think there’s any reason why we can’t use that momentum going forward to the Premier League.

“I think already there’ll be possibly not a lot of expectation outside of here about what we can achieve.

“But we know what we’ve done this season and we know we want to keep raising those standards, and you never know where it can take you.”

Burnley had barely been promoted before people were writing them off, making them favourites for relegation, but Heaton admitted: “I don’t take any notice, that’s part and parcel of football.

“Everyone’s got an opinion and everyone’s entitled to an opinion.

“It’s a little bit of a lazy opinion though.

“We’ve spoken before about the framework and the hard work and the application, but when you look at Ashley Barnes’ goal against Wigan - what a goal! If one of the big sides score that goal I think it gets played for years on end.

“It was that good. And there has been so much quality here this season.

“Hopefully if we can keep that going forward and with everything else it’s going to be a good season next year.”

It’s going to be a big year on and off the pitch for the former Manchester United youngster, who is about to become a father for the first time - while also preparing for best man’s duties at teammate David Jones’ wedding next month in Italy: “It could be a big few weeks. The birth of my first child’s not too far away.

“I couldn’t be in a better frame of mind to be brutally honest at the minute. I’m looking forward to it!

“I’ve been warned a bit - I’m not sure I’ve got my head around it quite just yet but thankfully I’ll have about six or eight weeks to get my head around it before we’re back in for pre-season.

“Then I’ve got Jonesy’s wedding in June.

“He moved into my apartment when we were both at Manchester United for six months, then he left the club at 21.

“We haven’t played in the same side since, so it’s been brilliant to be back together and both play every game in the league and have such a good season. You can’t write the script. It’s just absolutely brilliant.”

You could say that about many of the Burnley squad, with the likes of Scott Arfield snapped up after being surplus to requirements at Huddersfield Town, and Heaton added: “It has been a remarkable story.

“It just shows you if you can get the right ingredients and the right sort of training and get the belief there and the confidence there, quality will hopefully come through. I think the squad’s done that all year.

“The manager deserves a lot of credit for getting the best out of people.

“The message I get is that it’s not just about the results, it’s more about how we go about it, and people can get behind that and relate to a team in which individuals are giving everything and that team ethos.

“You started to see that with the support. I certainly can’t speak highly enough of the support home and away this year. Sunday’s parade was that in a nutshell.

“There’s no better way of seeing it than that show of support on Sunday when everyone was taking to the streets, it was brilliant.”

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