Tom Heaton ready to fight for World Cup dream
Burnley's Tom Heaton is ready to fight for his World Cup dream as competition as among England's five top goalkeepers hots up.
Joe Hart has been the nation's number one for the past five years but is facing challengers on several fronts as he looks to rebuild his Premier League career on loan at West Ham.
Stoke's Jack Butland, Southampton's Fraser Forster and Jordan Pickford, Everton's new £30million under-21 international, will all be hoping for a call should England qualify for Russia 2018, where only three glovemen will be required.
But last time the Three Lions took to the pitch, a 3-2 friendly defeat in France, it was Heaton who started the match and it is a position he will not relinquish easily.
"T he World Cup at the end of the season is always there, it doesn't go away, but to have a chance of being involved in that you need performances week in, week out," said the Clarets skipper.
"I don't think there's any given right to pull on that England shirt or be in the squad. I don't think any player should ever feel comfortable. At that level it's about being the best in the country at that moment in time.
"Having been involved for two years it's been fantastic, getting my first cap, playing 45 minutes at Wembley, getting that first start this summer. The one thing it does do is give you hunger for more and I've certainly got that ambition.
"I think the competition is really strong, they're all fantastic goalkeepers, and that will only breed more success and get more out of people. I, for one, am looking forward to the challenge.
"Hopefully the goalkeeping department will go from strength to strength and I'm embracing the challenge of being part of it."
Heaton travelled to Euro 2016 as third choice under Roy Hodgson and his stock leapt sharply thanks to some fine performances for Burnley last season.
Despite defying expectations to finish six points clear of the drop last term, Sean Dyche's side are once again among the bookies' favourites for relegation, a fact which carries little weight Heaton.
"Everyone's got a view, I suppose," he said. "We try not to take notice of it. The first season I came here we were third favourites to get relegated and we got promoted, so they got that one wrong I think. We have our own standards and expectations within the four walls.
"I thoroughly enjoyed last season but you draw a line under that; this is a new season and there's quite a few things to work on. My dad always used to say to me 'if you're not moving forward, you're moving back'."