Modern day Burnley legend Tom Heaton looking forward to taking on the Clarets with Aston Villa

Tom Heaton
Tom Heaton

Burnley have to find a way past a modern day Clarets legend on Saturday.

But Tom Heaton is trying to treat it as just another game.

The 33-year-old led the club to the Championship title in 2016, enjoyed four seasons in the Premier League, broke into the England squad and played in Europe in a remarkable six years at Turf Moor.

And while Burnley will always hold a place in his heart, it has to be business as usual for the Aston Villa keeper.

He is looking forward to the game, but is purely focused on picking up a second Premier League win of the season: "It will be slightly different, obviously, I spent such a long time at Burnley, and have a lot of good relationships with people and the club.

"But that's life, that's football, it often goes that way.

"When the whistle blows, there's a job to be done.

"I'm looking forward to the game, I had a fantastic time at Burnley with some fantastic people, and fans, but time moves forward.

"Whether it's Turf Moor or Villa Park, Wembley, there's a job to be done.

"It's important nothing distracts from that.

"I obviously have a history there and we had some incredible times.

"It was an important time in my life, but everything has moved on.

"I have good relationships with everybody there, but I can't focus on names and faces, individual, personal battles, I just have to be focused on my job and try and deal with what happens on the day.

"That's how I've always looked at it."

Villa have only won once so far in the league, beating Everton 2-0 at home, but have tried to play on the front foot and takethe challenge head on after promotion.

Heaton feels more wins are around the corner: "I'm enjoying it, we've started well. We've competed well in every game.

"We had the win against Everton, and drew with West Ham, in a game we dominated 11 v 11 - when they went down to 10 it didn't suit us as much.

"It was difficult, a similar story to Arsenal, and at Palace there was a a difficult decision to take which might have got us a point.

"The important thing is to keep building on our performances and keep trying to get the finer details right.

"That's what counts, the important moments in games, if we can tighten those up, the results will come.

"We have a lot of ability in the squad, and a bit of Premier League experience, and it is about accelerating how quickly we adapt. But there have been good markers so far."

Heaton played for Burnley on their last visit to Villa Park, for the last game of 2014/15, which the relegated Clarets won 1-0 with a goal from Danny Ings.

Ashley Westwood was in the Villa side, and Heaton had just been called up to the England squad for the very first time by Roy Hodgson: "The ground has been good for me, we won there just after I'd had my first England call up, and got a 10th clean sheet of the season there.

"It's a superb stadium, and the support has been impressive.

"With that support, and the travelling Burnley fans, it should be a great mix and a great atmosphere."

Heaton was a big fan favourite at Turf Moor, the welcome he received on his return to the side against West Ham at the turn of the year showing the respect they have for him: "The reception the fans gave me against West Ham will stay with me an awful long time, it was incredible.

"I can't speak highly enough of the fans, I had a bond with them, and with the Villa fans, that bond is growing.

"So it should be a great occasion, but I have to make sure i stay focused on the job."

Dean Smith last took on Burnley with Brentford in January 2016, as the Clarets turned in one of the best performances in their title-winning season.

But has he spoken to Heaton for some inside knowledge?: "I've not gone down that road, the way the lads play has been very effective for a long period, and I don't think it will come as a surprise.

"Everyone is aware of the challenge, and we'll see where the game takes us, but we'll have our own gameplan, especially at home.

"It should be an interesting game, and a tough one for the lads facing Burnley, but there should be no surprises."