MATT Gilks is eager to maintain his place in the Scotland squad this season – as he prepares himself for a battle with Tom Heaton for the number one jersey at Burnley.
Gilks recently joined the Clarets on a free transfer after turning down a new contract at Blackpool, and the 32-year-old is under no illusions that he will face a stiff task to dislodge Heaton from the Burnley line-up.
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Heaton impressed last season, starting every league game on the way to promotion to the Premier League, but missed the Clarets’ 8-0 win over FC Grossklein in their opening pre-season game because of a minor groin injury.
Gilks made his Burnley debut in that match, featuring for 45 minutes, and is keen to stake his own claim for a place.
The Oldham-born keeper has been a regular member of the Scotland squad in recent times and wants to retain his place in the international setup.
“When I got into the Premier League with Blackpool I was lucky to get into the Scotland squad through my grandmother,” said Gilks, who started his career with Rochdale.
“I got three international caps, which is a level I never thought I’d get to. I was very grateful for the opportunity.
“I love going away with them and hopefully I can continue to do so.
“It’s all good experience but the competition for places (at Burnley) is very tough and I just have to keep my head down and work hard.
“It’s a very good goalkeeping squad. It’s a very strong position and the competition is good. It’s up to the manager to decide who plays and whatever he says we’ll do.”
Gilks has been impressed by the togetherness he has witnessed within the current Burnley set-up.
It is quite a contrast to events off the field at his old club Blackpool, who have been in turmoil in recent weeks after a stand-off between chairman Karl Oyston and new manager Jose Riga over new signing – leaving the Seasiders with only eight players.
“It’s not been nice to see, deep down there are a lot of good people who work for the club and a lot of good supporters,” Gilks said about Blackpool.
“It’s been fantastic here, I’ve loved every minute of it. I knew I was coming to a good football club but it’s surpassed everything I thought this club was about.
“It’s the professionalism but mostly the people who are here, everyone knows what their role is and does it to their utmost ability. I can’t speak highly enough of the place.
“To be made to feel welcome into such a tight group is quite an honour really.
“I’ve been rooming with Jukes (Lukas Jutkiewicz) and we talked about it just before we went to sleep in Austria, what a great group of people we’ve got here at Burnley.
“Hopefully this year we can carry on what they did last year and be successful again.”