Burnley boss Sean Dyche has handed England a boost ahead of the World Cup by revealing goalkeeper Tom Heaton is close to making a return from injury.
The 31-year-old has been out of action since sustaining a shoulder injury in Burnley’s 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace in September, dealing a blow to his chances of making the tournament in Russia.
Capped three times by England, Heaton now faces a battle to oust the impressive Nick Pope in goal and force his way back into Gareth Southgate’s squad.
“Tom is really close now, close to getting back involved,” Burnley boss Dyche told a news conference ahead of Saturday’s match against Watford.
“I spoke to him in the week about it and being almost overly assured that he’s right. He’s going really well at the moment and he feels really good.
“He’s in good shape and he’s really pleased with it. I spoke with him yesterday and he’s really pleased with how he’s feeling, he’s very active and doing very well.
A clean sweep of @premierleague nominations this month.
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— Burnley FC (@BurnleyOfficial) April 5, 2018
“I think the reality is there’s a good competitive element to our goalkeepers as a department. I felt that last year and I felt that brought Popey [Pope] along with Robbo [Paul Robinson] and Tom particularly.
“Now it’s reversed with Popey having the shirt and Tom coming back to fitness, but still a really good competitive element there.
“They’re the challenges you want as a manager, that’s why you bring these players in. You want that competitive element, I certainly want it here. I want to be put in a position where I have to choose and choose wisely.”
Pope has kept 10 Premier League clean sheets this season and was called up to the England squad for the friendlies against Netherlands and Italy in March.
Burnley announced on Thursday that third-choice goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard has signed a one-year contract extension.
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