Burnley boss Sean Dyche hails Tom Heaton’s professionalism

Tom Heaton returned in goal for his first Premier League game since dislocating his shoulder against Crystal Palace last season
Tom Heaton returned in goal for his first Premier League game since dislocating his shoulder against Crystal Palace last season

Sean Dyche praised Tom Heaton’s professionalism after his club captain made his first Premier League appearance in 476 days against West Ham.

Heaton was recalled in place of ever-present Joe Hart, for his first League start since he dislocated his shoulder against Crystal Palace in September 2017.

The England international has hinted he might have to assess his options in January if he continued to struggle for opportunities, but came in and kept a clean sheet - only a fifth of the season - with the highlight a magnificent stop to claw away a late Andy Carroll header.

Dyche said: “Joe’s done well for us, he’s a quality keeper and a quality professional, as a bloke as well. He was the first to jump up when Tom made the save right at the end.

“There’s a big respect for him around here, and a big decision coming - you’ve got three England goalkeepers, and all high quality.

“Tom showed that today. The thing I’m pleased with is Tom keeps his profession right, and that’s hard, when you’re out of the side and want to be playing, he’s been so professional, he works hard, stays on top of himself, and he gets his rewards.

“He not only gave a good general performance, but makes a big save right at the end.”

Heaton’s selection gave the crowd a huge life, and Dyche added: “Why would there not be a good feeling towards Tom Heaton? I think so much of him, he knows that, but I can only pick 11, and one goalkeeper.

“I am quite loyal to people, and I think I’ve been loyal to Joe, but eventually you have to look at the stats against us, conceding goals, and eventually the final piece I haven’t changed, was the goalkeeper, so I felt it was necessary and appropriate.”

Asked whether Heaton would feel less need to look elsewhere in January, Dyche insisted: “He’s not thinking about that today, neither am I, trust me, just delighted with a very good team performance, and he played his part in that.”

Another of Dyche’s five changes saw 19-year-old Dwight McNeil come in for his third senior start, and he celebrated with a first goal. “I’ve spoken many times this season about how much I rate him, I think he’s a very good player, and he’s only going to mature and get better.

“He has quality, he has a desire about him, and I think his belief needs to grow. When you’re young, some people have that touch if natural arrogance, he’s a quiet type, there’s just that tiny bit of self doubt.

“But that will soon go if he keeps delivering performances like that.

“He’s been round the group, travelling with us, he played a couple early season, but for him to score, he’ll be so proud, and so should his family.”