TOM Heaton has labelled Burnley’s festive double header against relegation rivals Middlesbrough and Sunderland as ‘massive’.

After suffering two more defeats on the road in the past week Burnley return to home comforts on Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve.

After 17 games of the campaign the Clarets are a point behind Boro and three ahead of the Black Cats as they approach a crucial Christmas period.


While Burnley were better at Tottenham on Sunday, they have taken just one point from eight away games and are continuing to be reliant on form at Turf Moor, where they have picked up five wins already.

And Heaton is keen to add two more successes to that number next week.

“They’re obviously massive,” said Heaton of the festive fixtures. “We start with Middlesbrough on Boxing Day and it’s one we’re all looking forward to.

“Turf Moor has been a real fortress with the fans behind us. It’s been excellent so far. We’ll go in there to give everything we’ve got to come away with three points.

“We’re just going in to every game trying to win it. We won’t look on too grand a scale at this moment in time. We’ll prepare for Middlesbrough, we’ll give them a healthy respect as ever and make sure we impact the game as we usually do.”

Burnley are averaging a point a game so far this season and still have a three point cushion on the relegation zone, and skipper Heaton has been delighted with the start to the campaign.

“It has been excellent. The important thing has been away from home and trying to get that sorted. That was much more like it (against Tottenham),” he said.

“We need to pick up some results away from home, we can’t keep relying on our home form, but it has been a good start to the season. We’ve won quite a few games, there are always areas to improve on and we’ll look to do that from now on in.”

The 2-1 defeat at White Hart Lane was Burnley’s seventh of the season on the road, but Heaton believes it was their best display away from home so far.

“There’s a lot been made of the away form so far, we’ve tried a few different things to rectify it, but I think this was our best performance away from home in it being much more like us. We’re slightly disappointed not to come away with something,” he said.

“Obviously we’ve come away having been beaten, you can’t get away from that, that’s set in stone, but I think in terms of where we’ve been so far - the results haven’t been great and more frustrating on our part the performances haven’t been up to scratch - but it was against Tottenham and it was much more like what we’re about.

“We created chances, caused problems for them, defended well, didn’t concede too many chances so all in all there’s a lot to build on. We know it’s a results game but over a period of time those sort of performances will give us a great chance of getting things away from Premier League grounds.

“I feel it was one of our best, if not the best, performances. If we keep doing that then the results will come.”