Tom Heaton "absolutely delighted" for Burnley teammate Nick Pope

Heaton
© Offside
Burnley and England goalkeeper Tom Heaton is ready to battle Nick Pope for a starting spot after returning from a seven-month injury layoff.

Tom Heaton has heaped praise on "outstanding" Burnley teammate Nick Pope, but says that he is relishing the battle to win back the number one shirt.

Pope has taken advantage of Heaton's long-term layoff this term by producing a string of impressive displays for the Clarets, helping him to earn recognition on the international stage with England.

Rather than feeling hard done-by following a seven-month spell on the sidelines, though, effectively costing him his place in the Three Lions' World Cup squad, Heaton is ready to rival Pope for a starting spot now that he is back in the matchday squad.

"I'm absolutely delighted for Popey, he's a top lad and we have a very good relationship," he told Omnisport. "I've been impressed with him since we signed him from Charlton, two years ago I think it was. He's been excellent.

"He's come in the side and it's difficult having not played Premier League football before and his performances have been outstanding all the way through, so I am delighted for him. Obviously, I don't love sitting on the bench, of course I'll be competing for the shirt to get in the team, but that's part and parcel of the football club.

"Every player here in the squad will be desperate to play, that competitive edge, I'm certainly going to enjoy the challenge and I'm sure he is as well. I think first and foremost, especially as captain, your mindset is for the club and what's right for that, and the lads have been outstanding this season.

"I think to be in such a good, strong position pushing for Europe at the moment is a great marker. It's been a brilliant season. Obviously, disappointed to miss out on it on a personal level, but as I say such is life. I've been very lucky with injuries and I'm delighted to be back fit now and fighting to get back involved."

Heaton has made four Premier League appearances for Burnley this term, the most recent of which came against Crystal Palace on September 10 when sustaining his shoulder injury.

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England goalkeeper Joe Hart in action during his side's World Cup qualifying clash with Slovakia on September 4, 2017
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