Burnley’s start to the season has somewhat exceeded expectations as Sean Dyche’s men currently lie 14th in the Premier League after the first 10 matches.
Their tally of 11 points is impressive and what is more impressive is the fact that they have picked up home wins over the Merseyside duo of Liverpool and Everton, while earning a very creditable drew at Old Trafford last Saturday.
And in no small part have those results been due to the form of goalkeeper Tom Heaton. The former Manchester United goalkeeper frustrated his former club with a string of saves that made sure that Burnley were to leave The Theatre of Dreams with a well earned point. It was just another in a string of great performances by Heaton this season and the question now is whether or not he will be given the chance to start for England later in the month.
With England playing both Scotland in World Cup Qualifying action and Spain in a friendly at Wembley in the space of four days, the opportunity for Heaton to add to the solitary cap that he has already earned looks ready to present itself.
It was a friendly in which Heaton was given his first outing for England when England went on to beat Australia 2-1 at the Stadium of Light back in May but that was only a three minute cameo after replacing Fraser Forster; now the 30-year-old will be looking to earn a first start for the national side.
If Heaton is to be awarded a start then the logical time would be the friendly versus Spain. That game, which could very well be interim manager Gareth Southgate’s last in charge, would be the perfect chance to blood some players who are not familiar to the international scene.
But many will reckon that the Burnley No.1 has done enough to warrant inclusion for the tie against the ‘Auld Enemy’, when Gordon Strachan brings his Scotland side to Wembley on November 11. On current form, Heaton deserves the chance.
It’s not just when earning points for Burnley that he has been impressive, he arguably had one of his best performances of the season so far when Southampton ran out 3-1 winners at St Mary’s last month. Despite being on the losing side, he made no fewer than 10 saves from the Saints’ 14 efforts on target.
Although Fraser Forster on the opposing side may have gone home with three points, it was Heaton who earned all the plaudits and possibly edged himself up the England goalkeeping pecking order. But has he done enough to dislodge Joe Hart?
Hart, who is currently having a Manchester City sabbatical while plying his trade for Serie A outfit Torino, has been solid, if not spectacular, since he started his loan spell at the start of the August and it would be to no detriment if he were to start against Scotland, but perhaps someone else is deserving of the England goalkeepers jersey right now.
Critics may argue that Heaton only has to make so many saves because the Burnley defence is weak but he still has to make those saves and, if it wasn’t for him, then they certainly wouldn’t have reached double figures in terms of points at this stage of the campaign.
Instead of playing the same tried and tested players for the national side, perhaps we should focus more on playing players who are actually in peak form.
Right now, what have we got to lose? Expect Tom Heaton to earn at least one more cap this month, but he deserves two.