Lancashire TelegraphTurf feel good factor for Clarets keeper Tom Heaton (From Lancashire Telegraph)

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Turf feel good factor for Clarets keeper Tom Heaton

Lancashire Telegraph: Tom Heaton Tom Heaton

CLARETS keeper Tom Heaton insists he is ‘excited’ about the second half of the season, and the promotion challenge awaiting the team.

Burnley have got 2014 off to a winning start in the Championship, with back-to-back successes over Huddersfield Town and struggling Yeovil Town to keep in touch with leaders Leicester City.

Sean Dyche’s side go into Saturday’s home game with Sheffield Wednesday, who have former Clarets coach Stuart Gray in caretaker charge, looking to retain their position in the automatic promotion places.

QPR remain hot on their heels, just a point and a place below in third, while 11 points separate Burnley from sixth placed Brighton, who they face at the end of the month.

With 21 games to go, Heaton feels it is gearing up towards a gripping finale, as the Clarets bid for a top flight return.

“This is where you want to be as a player, pushing for the Premier League,” said the goalkeeper.

“It’s certainly where I’d rather be. Well, I’d rather be one up but I’ll take second place if it means going up.

“I’m looking forward to giving it a right go. There’s no reason why if we continue what we’re doing we can’t get there.”

He added: “It’s been fantastic so far and great to be a part of. We’re looking forward to an exciting time.”

Heaton became Dyche’s first permanent signing for Burnley in the summer, on a free transfer from Bristol City.

The Clarets boss made Ashley Barnes his first paid-for signing last week and there could be more new faces at the club before the end of the month.

Middlesbrough’s Rhys Williams has been linked with a Turf Moor return, after finding himself in and out of the side under new manager Aitor Karanka.

The versatile defender, an Australia international, is likely to command a fee of £1million but Boro would be prepared to listen to loan offers, with a view to a permanent move at the end of the season.

The Riverside outfit are aware of interest in Williams, from a number of clubs, but no concrete bids have been received, and it is understood they are not anticipating anything imminent.

Although Karanka is looking to boost his starting XI, he has expressed concerns about the size of his squad and would be in favour of trimming numbers, and the wage bill.

“It is important for the players and for me to have a squad of 23 players,” he said.

“At the moment we have a squad of 30 players and that is no good to anyone, not to me and not to the players.

“It causes problems in training and for the players who are not playing.

“So we need to work hard this month to reduce the number of players in the squad.

“The most important thing is to have a squad of just 23 players.”

  • Meanwhile, Burnley’s youth alliance league fixture at home to Carlisle, scheduled for Saturday, has been postponed.

The fixture will now take place on Tuesday, February 11, the same day as the first team’s trip to Bolton, with a 1pm kick off.

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