Burnley Goalkeeper Starts for England
England boss Gareth Southgate said Tom Heaton’s ‘outstanding season’ is why the Clarets captain has been picked to start for the Three Lions against France. Burnley No.1 will make his first England start in the Pairs friendly before Stoke City’s Jack Butland takes on the goalkeeping duties for the second half.
Heaton takes over from Joe Hart who came under criticism for both goals as he conceded against Scotland in the weekend 2-2 draw. But Southgate insisted he had always intended to share game time between Heaton and Butland against France.
Southgate said: “I said on Saturday it was never my intention to play Joe in this game, so Tom Heaton will start the game. Tom’s had an outstanding season in the Premier League with Burnley. We’ve got to maintain the squad environment that people feel involved, we need to give players an opportunity of game time.
I think in the past one or two goalkeepers have sort of given up international football because they’ve not had that chance, so I’m conscious of keeping people involved. Jack is coming back from a long lay-off and was the number two before that but hasn’t had the amount of game time, but we think he can challenge for the number one slot moving forward.”
Heaton kept 10 clean sheets for Burnley in the Premier League last season and made a league high number of saves 141. His England debut came as a late substitute against Australia ahead of last summer’s European Championships before be played the second half of a friendly draw with Spain at Wembley in November last year.