Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton has spoken about his struggles with the events that have followed his injury, most notably missing the World Cup this past summer.
The 32-year-old was having the time of his life between the sticks just over a year ago and looked certain to make Gareth Southgate’s World Cup squad.
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Unfortunately, however, he suffered a horrific shoulder injury in a match against Crystal Palace last September and had to watch from the sidelines as both club and country impressed without him in the mix.
“I’m a prime example of how fortunes can change. At the moment, I’m on the wrong side of it,” Heaton said, via the Mirror. “Just 16 months ago, I was starting for England against France in the Stade de France. With everything that has happened, that now feels a long time ago.
“Coming back from the injury was a challenge in itself because it’s one of the worst injuries a keeper can suffer.
“Thankfully, I got back to full fitness with around seven or eight games of last season to go.”
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After losing his place at Burnley to Nick Pope, Heaton helplessly looked on as the younger keeper nabbed his spot in the England squad as well.
“Nick Pope had a fantastic season after replacing me,” he continued. “He was rightly named player of the year, he’d also broken into the England squad – that’s the way football works. I couldn’t have any complaints about that.
“I had to accept not being in the World Cup squad, but then delighted to be placed on standby. I had a fantastic two weeks as we all prepared for the finals.”
Heaton also admitted it was difficult to watch England play in the World Cup without him but found some unlikely company in Liverpool’s Adam Lallana, whom he watched games with on holiday in Dubai.
“It was difficult to watch the World Cup games,” Heaton revealed. “It was tough because you’re desperate to be involved. But, at the same time, you are an England fan.
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“I also spent a bit of time with Adam Lallana. Our holidays overlapped and we watched a couple of the games together in Dubai. We both had similar feelings.
“Obviously, it was brilliant for the boys reaching the semi final, but there was still that nagging feeling that you were desperate to be there.”
With Joe Hart arriving during the summer, it will be doubly difficult for Heaton to convince Sean Dyche to reinstate him as the team’s number one. And he says he will be keeping his options open when the transfer window comes along in January.
“It doesn’t need a rocket scientist to see that it’s going to be difficult to fit us all in,” the keeper noted.
“Come the January transfer window, I’ve got to keep my options open. The one thing I’ve been consistent about in my career is moving clubs in order to play games.”