TOM Heaton does not like to worry about things that are out of his hands – certainly not in football. Perhaps, as a goalkeeper, it’s an occupational hazard.
Once his work for the day was done in last Saturday’s early kick-off, resulting in the first home league defeat in over a year against champions elect Leicester City, it might have been tempting for goalkeeper Heaton and his team-mates to dash home and wait for the other results to come in – wishing, hoping that they would go their way.
Neighbours Blackpool did Burnley a favour, earning a point against third-placed Queens Park Rangers, marginally trimming a 10-point lead going into the day’s fixtures to nine, with seven games to go.
But it was not until after all the final scores were in on Saturday that Heaton sat down to digest them, and see how that affected the league table.
He made sure he was blissfully unaware of all the action as it happened.
“I don’t enjoy looking at it because you get a bit agitated with it,” he said.
“You’ve got no control over it.
“You put on Soccer Saturday and they’re going here and going there (to different grounds) so I have to go and walk the dog and clear my head a little bit.
“I try to just avoid it and look at it later on under a calmer frame.
“And it’s probably a better way to do it because we’ve got no control over it, so there’s no point getting sucked into it. We can only look at what we’re doing and affect that as best we can.”
Heaton, who is enjoying an entirely different campaign from last year when he suffered relegation with Bristol City, added: “It’s great when results go our way a little bit. We’re obviously trying to avoid thinking too much about that or looking at it too much really. It’s completely in our hands at the minute and as long as we keep going at things with the right mentality we’re going to give ourselves a great chance.
“It sounds simple really but I think that’s all you can do.”
Three away games in the next four await the Clarets as the season enters the final month.
Watford is first up tomorrow, with Burnley facing a fixture without Sam Vokes for the first time this season after the striker’s impressive campaign was cut cruelly short by a cruciate knee ligament injury.
Midfielder Dean Marney is missing through suspension, both Kieran Trippier (pictured below) and Danny Ings are highly unlikely to mark their return from injury this weekend, while there are question marks over the fitness of winger Junior Stanislas after he complained of a tight hamstring in training.
But Heaton prefers to look to the haves, rather than the have-nots.
“There’s no panic of major issues, we know we’ve got enough quality in the squad and we’ve shown that over the year. It might not be the biggest squad but there’s certainly quality there,” said the former Manchester United and Cardiff City stopper.
“Whoever comes in will know what the job is and know what the mentality has got to be.
“It’s just been a focus on making sure what’s got us to this stage no matter who the personnel is.
“There has been a big impact off the bench this year which is a major asset of the team.
“If we can get players coming off the bench and producing performances and impacting on games which they have done this year it’s vitally important so that once you get injuries, suspensions, changes in form you get a few changes in personnel, but everyone’s clear on what the job is and it’s just about going out there and striving for that.
“Whatever the manager does, whether it’s a change in formation or personnel or shape it will be all about the mentality we go into the game with.”