Burnley boss Sean Dyche says Tom Heaton is getting better all the time, but will not interfere in the debate over whether he should become England number one.
The former Manchester United goalkeeper made 11 saves – a Premier League-high – in the 3-1 loss at Southampton last month and produced a fine performance when his side drew 0-0 with Manchester United last time out.
Joe Hart and Fraser Forster are Heaton’s main rivals to start for England, with Dyche unwilling to pressure Gareth Southgate despite praising the Burnley keeper’s constant improvement.
“I think that England’s number one should be chosen by the manager and that is for the right reasons,” Dyche said at his pre-match media conference ahead of Saturday’s home Premier League match against Crystal Palace.
“Tom is giving very good performances for us, he is always looking to improve and develop which is the culture and environment that we set here. He’s played a big part of that for himself and he has been effective within the group as well.
“He’s been a very good captain last year and continues to be so as well. He’s continued to progress year on year and all credit to him. The other goalies rub off on him as well, pushing him and that’s a good blend we have in that position.
“His all-round game is maturing I think and in my opinion he is certainly a Premier League goalkeeper – there are no two ways about it.”
Key midfielder Steven Defour is in contention to return against Palace, but Stephen Ward (hamstring) is out.
“We don’t think Wardy has a chance for this weekend, but he’s a good healer,” added Dyche.
“The good side of it is we have the international break coming at a good time to allow him a chance to be available sooner rather than later.
“I doubt he will go away [with Republic of Ireland]. It will be a miracle if he’s fit for this weekend.”
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